As more countries and airlines have begun to ground their MAX fleets in the aftermath of the crash, Boeing on March 12 said it will deploy a 737 MAX software “enhancement” across the fleet in the coming weeks incorporating feedback “received from our customers.” According to the company, FAA will also mandate the change in an airworthiness directive “no later than April.”
Here is the MAX grounding status, which will be updated by our editors:
Updated March 12
India’s Ministry of Civil Aviation said it would “immediately” ground the Boeing 737-MAX aircraft. “These planes will be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations.”
Flydubai grounded its fleet of 11 Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 2 Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft, following the directive issued by the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said it has “adopted a decision to ground all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in Europe.”
The UK, France, Germany and Ireland announced their decision on March 12 to ban all Boeing 737 MAX flight operations until further notice.
Germany’s decision was initially announced by Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer in a TV interview and later confirmed by the ministry. French authority DGAC pointed out that no French airlines operate the MAX, but it would close its airspace for the type as a precaution until further notice.
Russia’s S7 Airlines, the first operator of Boeing 737 MAX in the country, has grounded the type from midnight, March 13, Moscow time. It will not affect the carrier’s schedule as its fleet comprises 96 aircraft, two of them are Boeing 737 MAXs, the airline added in a statement.
Turkish Airlines announced it will cease operations of their 12 Boeing 737 MAX type passenger aircraft as of March 13, until further notice.
Austria Airlines will join the MAX ban as of midnight.
Icelandair has also announced it will ground its MAX aircraft.
As a reaction, Boeing stated that safety was its “number one priority and we have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX. We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets. We’ll continue to engage with them to ensure they have the information needed to have confidence in operating their fleets. The United States Federal Aviation Administration is not mandating any further action at this time, and based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators.”
Malaysia joined Singapore to be the latest country in Southeast Asia to suspend all Boeing 737 Max 8 flights in and out of the country on the evening of March 12, making it the second authority to do so in Asia in less than 12 hours.
“The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia with immediate effect is suspending the operations of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft flying to or from Malaysia and transiting in Malaysia until further notice,” Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia CEO Ahmad Nizar Zolfakar said.
None of Malaysia’s airlines flies the narrowbody; however, according to Nikkei Asian Review, Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali urged the country’s sovereign wealth fund, Khazanah, to “revisit” the agreement to purchase 25 737 MAX 8 for Malaysia Airlines.
While Indonesia’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) ordered the grounding of the country’s 737 MAX 8, it did not prevent other operators from flying in or out of its airspace a restrictions imposed by Singapore, Malaysia and Australia. This restriction meant that Thailand’s LCC Thai Lion Air would not be able to operate its 737 Max 9 south of Thailand, as the Kingdom’s regulator has not imposed any restrictions at press time.
Updated 10:01 EDT, March 12
Norwegian temporarily suspended Boeing 737 MAX flights following recommendations by European aviation authorities. Norwegian has more than 110 Boeing 737-800 aircraft in its fleet, which are not affected by this temporary suspension. Norwegian has 18 Boeing 737 MAX 8 in its fleet. The total order of these aircraft is 110.
Norwegian’s acting COO Tomas Hesthammer said: “In response to the temporary suspension of Being 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 aviation authorities.”
Updated 09:30 UTC, March 12
Australia followed other countries by temporarily suspending Boeing 737 MAX flights, with Fiji Airways the main carrier affected by the decision.
The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) said the suspension affects all flights into and out of Australia. While no Australian airlines operate MAXs, two foreign carriers—SilkAir and Fiji Airways—fly these aircraft on Australian routes. However, SilkAir’s MAX operations have already been suspended by a similar directive from Singapore authorities.
CASA said it is “working with Fiji Airways to minimize any disruptions and with regulators in Fiji and Singapore.” The Fijian carrier has two 737 MAX aircraft, and these will be replaced on Australian routes by other aircraft types, according to CASA.
The suspension is “in the best interests of safety” and was made “in light of the two recent fatal accidents,” said CASA CEO Shane Carmody. “This is a temporary suspension while we wait for more information to review the safety risks of continued operations of the Boeing 737 MAX.”
CASA will continue to monitor the situation, and the suspension “will be reviewed as relevant safety information becomes available” from Boeing, the FAA, and accident investigators.
Updated 03:00 UTC, March 12, 2019
Singapore temporarily suspended operations involving Boeing 737 MAX variants.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said the suspension would take effect from 2 p.m. local time (GMT +8) on March 12. It halted all operations of the type in and out of Singapore, “in light of two fatal accidents involving Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in less than five months.”
Singapore Airline’s (SIA) regional arm SilkAir operates six MAX 8s, alongside 737-800s. The day before the CAAS decision, SIA had said it was “closely monitoring the situation” regarding the MAX 8s.
Other airlines flying the MAX 8 into Singapore include China Southern Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Shandong Airlines and Thai Lion Air.
“CAAS has been in regular contact with SilkAir on its MAX operations since last year, and has been satisfied that it has been taking appropriate measures to comply with the necessary safety requirements,” according to the CAAS statement.
Updated 16:30 UTC, March 11, 2019
South Africa’s Comair removed its lone Boeing 737-8 MAX-family aircraft from its schedule, adding to a list of airlines that are parking Boeing’s newest single-aisle model until more is known about the March 10 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines MAX 8.
“Comair has decided to remove its 737 MAX from its flight schedule, although neither regulatory authorities nor the manufacturer has required it to do so,” said Wrenelle Stander, executive director of Comair’s airline division. “While Comair has done extensive preparatory work prior to the introduction of the first 737 MAX into its fleet and remains confident in the inherent safety of the aircraft, it has decided temporarily not to schedule the aircraft while it consults with other operators, Boeing and technical experts.”
Comair took delivery of its first MAX 8 on Feb. 27 and put it into service shortly after. The airline is slated to accept another one this month. It has ordered a total of eight 737 MAX aircraft, and will fly them under its British Airways-branded airline operation. The first sub-Saharan operator to take delivery of a 737 MAX-family model, it also operates 737-400s—which are being replaced by the newest models—and 737-800s.
Updated 15:00 UTC, March 11, 2019
China, Indonesia, Ethiopian Airlines and Cayman Airways temporarily grounded the Boeing 737 MAX 8 following a second crash of the type in less than six months.
The MAX was already under scrutiny by Indonesian authorities following the crash of Lion Air JT610 on Oct. 29 in which all 189 people were killed. There has been no indication so far that the two crashes are linked.
Two Indonesian carriers operate MAX 8s. Lion Air has 10 in its fleet, and Garuda Indonesia has one, according to the DGCA notice. Both carriers have more on order.
The Indonesian DGCA stressed that Boeing and the FAA have said they will advise if any further steps become necessary.
Authorities in China had already moved to ground MAX 8s operated by their carriers, and Ethiopian Airlines and Cayman Airways also grounded their MAX fleets.
Cayman has taken delivery of two MAX 8s—one in November and one last week.
More than 70 MAX 8s are in service with Chinese airlines that include Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, and Hainan Airlines.