UK aviation authority grounds Boeing planes following Ethiopian Airlines crash

Countries temporarily ground planes following fatal crash

Three Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes from Shanghai Airlines parked at Shanghai Hongqiao International Airport in Shanghai.

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

The Civil Aviation Authority has banned Boeing's 737 Max 8 aircraft from operating in British airspace "until further notice."

Nine British nationals were on board flight ET302 when it crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa on Sunday morning, killing all 157 people on board.

It was the second deadly incident involving the new model of Boeing passenger jet in less than five months, prompting concern over its safety.



A CAA spokesman said: "The UK Civil Aviation Authority has been closely monitoring the situation, however, as we do not currently have sufficient information from the flight data recorder, we have as a precautionary measure issued instructions to stop any commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace."

Tui Airways has the only five 737 Max 8 aircraft operated by a UK-based airline, and is due to begin flying a sixth later this week.

A spokesperson had previously indicated the fleet would continue to fly, but has confirmed the planes are grounded following the CAA ruling. 


'Safety must come first'

The decision has been welcomed by Brian Strutton, general secretary of pilots’ union Balpa, who said that “safety must come first.”

He added:"It is too early to know the cause of the latest crash and it is vital that air accident investigators carry out a thorough investigation to identify the cause so that measures to prevent future accidents can be put in place."

In the US the Federal Aviation Administration said the Boeing's 737 Max 8 were safe to operate, although it had a team on the ground in Ethiopia to assist with the investigation and was continuously assessing the safety performance of the aircraft.

Singapore was among the countries to take action on Tuesday when its civil aviation authority temporarily suspended operation of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft into and out of its airports.

The move prohibited services to and from Changi Airport, one of the largest hubs in Southeast Asia, while Singapore Airlines subsidiary SilkAir said it was temporarily withdrawing its six Max 8s.

It comes after Chinese and Indonesian regulators ordered their airlines to temporarily ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes on Monday.

A number of airlines have grounded their fleet of the aircraft model, including Royal Air Maroc, Cayman Airways, Mongolian Airlines and Comair, which is a British Airways franchise in southern Africa.


'Technical assistance' 

Rescue workers at the scene of the crash outside of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. 

The Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed six minutes after taking off from the capital Addis Ababa.

Both the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder were recovered from the wreckage.

Ethiopian Airlines chief executive Tewolde Gebremariam said the pilot had sent out a distress call and was given the all-clear to return to the airport.

Senior captain Yared Getachew had a "commendable performance" having completed more than 8,000 hours in the air, the airline said.

Chicago-based Boeing is facing pressure to guarantee the safety of its 737 Max 8 aircraft.

The firm's chief executive Dennis Muilenburg said it was providing "technical assistance" to the Ethiopian government and regulatory authorities in their investigation.

The passengers killed in Sunday's crash came from 35 nations, including 32 from Kenya and 18 from Canada.