The crisis around the Boeing MAX has deepened on March 12, with more countries and airlines suspending operations of the type until further notice.
Early evening EASA has issued a Europe-wide suspension of MAX operations until further notice. “As a precautionary measure, EASA has published today an Airworthiness Directive, effective as of 19:00 UTC, suspending all flight operations of all Boeing Model 737-8 MAX and 737-9 MAX aeroplanes in Europe. In addition, EASA has published a Safety Directive, effective as of 19:00 UTC, suspending all commercial flights performed by third-country operators into, within or out of the EU of the above mentioned models.”
The AD itself says: “Based on all available information, EASA considers that further actions may be necessary to ensure the continued airworthiness of the two affected models (MAX 8 and 9)”.
Soon after that India’s DGCA announced immediate grounding “till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations.” It was followed by a similar decision from the United Arab Emirates authorities, blocking flydubai from operating its MAX fleet.
Earlier on Tuesday the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) suspended operations into and even flying over the country is the UK: “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.” The ban affects five UK-registered MAX, but also various airlines operating the type into the country. French DGAC followed suit.
Soon after this leisure group TUI announced the grounding of its MAX fleet. Before that, Norwegian and Icelandair did the same.
Earlier this same day the Australian CASA issued the same suspension of MAX flights, although no Australian-based airline operates the type. Singapore also suspended flights, especially hurting Singapore Airline’s subsidiary Silk Air.
As stated by the CAA, the authorities act without information that actually confirms that the MAX is unsafe to fly. So far, the FAA has qualified the type as safe, with no evidence that the Ethiopian Airlines crash is related to the Lion Air accident 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.”
The EASA AD affects both the MAX 8 and 9. (Richard Schuurman)