Tuesday 12 November 2019

Boeing jets at centre of crash that killed hero dad are grounded here

Investigators search through debris at the scene of the crash. Photo: Reuters
Investigators search through debris at the scene of the crash. Photo: Reuters

All Boeing 737 Max flights have been banned in Ireland in the wake of Sunday's Ethiopian Airlines disaster.

The Irish Aviation Authority decision follows the B737 Flight ET302 crash, which killed all 157 on board - including Irishman Michael Ryan - shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa.

Ireland, with 13 such aircraft registered here, joins a growing list of countries to ground the new Max 8 planes.

"The Irish Aviation Authority (IAA) has decided to suspend operation of all variants of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft in and out of Irish airspace," a statement said.

"This decision has been taken based on ensuring the continued safety of passengers and flight crew, which is the IAA's number one priority."

Record

The Boeing 737 Max 8 is the same model of jet as the Indonesian Lion Air plane that crashed after take-off in Jakarta last year, killing 189.

"The IAA's decision has been made taking account of the unprecedented loss of two Boeing 737 Max in recent months," aviation chiefs added.

"The IAA has been closely monitoring the situation.

"However, as we do not currently have sufficient information from the flight data recorder, we have as a precaution issued instructions to stop any flights on Boeing 737 Max from any operator arriving, departing or flying over Irish airspace.

"During the temporary suspension, the IAA will continue to work closely with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and the manufacturer Boeing."

It came as Norwegian Air, which flies from Dublin, Shannon and Cork airports to the US, halted 737 Max flights.

"Norwegian will not operate any flights with this aircraft type until further notice," the airline said. "We remain in close dialogue with the aviation authorities and Boeing, and follow their instructions and recommendations."

Norwegian has 18 of the 737 Max planes. However, its fleet is mostly made up of 110 Boeing 737-800 aircraft, which are not affected by the ban.

"In response to the temporary suspension of Boeing 737 Max operations by multiple aviation authorities, we have taken the decision to not operate flights using this aircraft type, until advised otherwise by the relevant authorities," said Norwegian's acting chief operating officer Tomas Hesthammer.

"We would like to apologise to customers for any inconvenienced caused.

"However, safety will always remain our top priority."

During the past two days, the UK, Australia, Ethiopia, Singapore, Indonesia, China, Mexico, South Korea, India, UK overseas territory the Cayman Islands and Brazil have all grounded their 737 Max fleets.

Safety concerns about the controversial new aircraft escalated following Monday's UK Civil Aviation Authority ban. Pressure then mounted on other regulators in Europe and America to step in. Earlier, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia and Oman ordered temporary bans on the aircraft, following the example of China, Indonesia and other countries.

"The UK, Singapore and Australia are independent professionals," said Teal Group analyst Richard Aboulafia. I am sure the (US) Federal Aviation Administration will take their judgment into account."

Meanwhile, the Ethiopian tragedy - on the heels of October's fatal 737 Max jet crash in Indonesia - has wiped billions of dollars off the market value of the world's biggest aircraft manufacturer.

However, experts said yesterday that it was too early to speculate on the cause of the latest disaster or on whether the two disasters are connected in any way.

Most crashes are caused by a unique chain of human and technical factors.

Given the problems of identification at the charred disaster site, Ethiopian Airlines said it would take at least five days to begin the process of reuniting loved-ones with the victims' remains.

The passengers on the ill-fated flight to Nairobi, Kenya, came from more than 30 different nations, and included nearly two dozen United Nations staff.

"We are Muslim and have to bury our deceased immediately," said Noordin Mohamed, a 27-year-old Kenyan businessman whose brother and mother were among those killed.

Painful

"Losing a brother and mother in the same day and not having their bodies to bury is very painful," he said from the Kenyan capital.

Flight ET302 came down in a field shortly after take-off from Ethiopia's capital, creating a fireball in a crater.

It may take weeks or months to complete the list of victims, who include a prize-winning author, an association football official and a team of humanitarian workers.

The US has said it remained safe to fly the planes, and Boeing has said there is no need to issue new guidance to operators based on the information it has so far. However, Ethiopian Airlines said it has grounded its four other 737 Max 8 jets as a precaution.

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