Update, March 12: Today, the U.K. joined the ranks of countries grounding the Boeing 737 Max 8 in the wake of two deadly recent accidents. Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority said Tuesday that it was taking a precautionary measure by banning any of the jets from “arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace.”
But the 737 Max 8 is still flying in the United States. Our Federal Aviation Administration says it is investigating the recent Ethiopian Airlines crash, but that American 737 Max 8s are indeed airworthy. (If you’re not convinced, here’s how to tell whether your upcoming flight is on this plane.)
China and Indonesia have suspended operations for all Boeing Max 8 jets following Sunday’s catastrophic Ethiopian Airlines crash, which killed 149 passengers and eight crew members.
The airliner is one of Boeing’s most popular planes, and the same model involved in the Lion Air crash that killed 189 passengers last November when the plane encountered a technical glitch and plummeted into the Java Sea.
Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 departed from from Addis Ababa Sunday morning bound for Nairobi. Similar to the ill-fated Lion Air flight, it crashed just minutes after takeoff when it encountered a technical problem that pilots failed to override. The pilot reportedly cited technical issues shortly after takeoff and asked to return to the airport, Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde GebreMariam told CNN.
In the case of Lion Air, a faulty sensor reading indicated the plane’s nose was too high shortly after takeoff, activating an automatic “nose down” safety feature. The cause of the Ethiopia Airlines crash is unknown, but investigators combing the desert outside Addis Ababa have located the plane’s “black box” data recorder, the Washington Post reports. Now, the bigger question for Boeing and aviation authorities across the world will be to determine if the two cases are linked.
In the face of uncertainty, various countries are keeping the planes on the ground: China’s Civil Aviation Authority on Monday ordered a temporary grounding of all Boeing Max 8 jets operating in the country by 6 p.m. local time. “Given in both air crashes, the aircrafts were newly delivered Boeing 737 MAX 8, and both accidents occurred during the take-off, they share certain similarities,” China’s CAA said in a statement. Cayman Airways and all carriers operating in Indonesia have grounded the MAX 8, while authorities India are subjecting the planes to review. Authorities in Vietnam won’t grant licenses to carriers hoping to operate the model until further reviews are conducted, according to the Post.
Boeing, which now faces tough questions about the technical integrity of one of its newest models, issued a statement following the disaster on Sunday morning:
The Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed just six minutes after takeoff. The aircraft reportedly ascended and then descended sharply before ascending again, while reaching faster speeds than are deemed safe by normal takeoff standards. The pilot in question, 29-year-old Yared Getachew, had 8,000 hours of flight experience and was considered a senior pilot, despite his age.
“As it is a fresh incident, we have not been able to determine the cause. As I said, it is a brand new airplane with no technical remarks, flown by a senior pilot and there is no cause that we can attribute at this time,” GebreMariam said to CNN.
The flight was carrying passengers from a broad spectrum of nationalities, including 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, and eight Americans according to CNN.
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