FAA stands by Boeing 737 Max 8 after airlines ground jets in wake of Ethiopia crash

China, Indonesia, Singapore and South Africa are among the countries which have ordered their airlines to ground the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet following the deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday, but the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a statement that it believes the aircraft model to be airworthy.

Flight ET302 from Addis Ababa to Nairobi crashed minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 people on board. This is the second tragedy involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 in the past six months, coming after the Lion Air crash with a plane of the same model in October 2018.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 is relatively new to the skies, having only been in commercial use since 2017

In a statement on late Monday, the FAA said investigators have yet to determine whether the issue that caused the crash of the Ethiopian Airlines jet on Sunday is related to the issue that brought down the the same plane operated by Lion Air last year.

“External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018. However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions,” reads the FAA’s Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community.

China’s aviation regulator has since ordered local airlines to halt all flights using the Boeing 737 Max 8 after Sunday’s crash in a report by the BBC.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has ordered all local airlines to suspend commercial operations of all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes before 18.00 local time today. According to Chinese state-run media, China has one of the world’s largest fleets of Boeing 737 MAX 8, operating 97 of them.

“Given that two accidents both involved newly delivered Boeing 737 Max 8 planes and happened during take-off phase, they have some degree of similarity,” CAAC said in a statement.

Several Chinese airlines affected by the suspension include Air China, China Eastern Airlines, and China Southern Airlines.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) has issued a statement that it is “temporarily suspending operation of all variants of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into and out of Singapore”.

The suspension will take place from 14.00 GMT today, and will affect SilkAir – Singapore Airlines’ regional subsidiary – which operates six Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, reported Channel NewsAsia.

Other airlines operating Boeing 737 Max aircraft to Singapore are Garuda Indonesia and Thai Lion Air, CAAS said.

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