Boeing’s 737 MAX has effectively been temporarily banned from Europe after the European Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) ordered the suspension of all commercial flights using the aircraft.
The move comes amid growing concern over whether the aircraft, specifically the 737 MAX 8 variant, is safe, it having been involved in two fatal crashes in the past five months.
Last October, Lion Air flight JT 610 plunged into the Java Sea shortly after taking off from Indonesian capital Jakarta. All 189 people on board were killed.
Then on Sunday (March 10), Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302 crashed en route to Nairobi around 30 miles from Addis Ababa. All 157 people on board, including nine British nationals and one Irish national, were killed.
Ethiopian grounded its four remaining 737 MAX aircraft immediately after the crash. Aviation authorities in China, Indonesia, Singapore and Australia quickly ordered the suspension of all inbound and outbound operations involving the 737 Max in their airspace.
The CAA announced on Tuesday afternoon it was suspending 737 MAX operations in UK airspace, forcing two Turkish Airlines flights to turn back. Germany, France and other European nations followed suit before Easa made an EU-wide order in respect of the 737 MAX.
“Following the tragic accident of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 involving a Boeing 737 MAX 8, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (Easa) is taking every step necessary to ensure the safety of passengers,” said Easa in a statement.
“As a precautionary measure, Easa has published an airworthiness directive 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 suspending all commercial flights performed by third-country operators into, within or out of the EU of the above mentioned models.”
Easa added it would assist with the investigation into flight ET 302 but stressed it was “too early to draw any conclusions as to the cause of the accident”.
Boeing though maintains its aircraft is safe and the US Federal Aviation Administration has deemed it airworthy.
Boeing 737 MAX aircraft continue to operate domestic routes in the US and Canada, although any transatlantic services using the 737 MAX have been suspended.