BOEING last night grounded all 737 Max 8 aircraft in response to safety fears following the crash in Ethiopia that killed 157 people, including nine Britons.
The US-based aviation giant said it continued to have full confidence in the safety of the plane but was making the recommendation ‘out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft’s safety’.
It comes after the Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed minutes after leaving Addis Ababa for the Kenyan capital Nairobi on Sunday.
A pilot, who made it to the scene not long after the disaster, said it appeared the plane had ‘slid directly into the ground’.
Following the announcement, US president Donald Trump followed Canada in making an emergency order grounding the 737 Max 8. The EU had already joined other major nations in barring the aircraft.
The US’s Federal Aviation Administration had earlier said a review showed ‘no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft’.
But referring to the Lion Air crash involving the same model that killed 189 people last October, European regulators said: ‘Similar causes may have contributed to both events.’
Boeing is helping Ethiopian Airlines with its investigation. The African airline said it was sending the black box from the doomed jet overseas for analysis, as grieving families arrived at the crash site. ‘A range of options’ were being considered concerning analysis of the flight and data recorders, one of which was damaged.
‘What we can say is we don’t have the capability to probe it here in Ethiopia,’ the airline added.
Ethiopian Airlines, seen as Africa’s best-managed carrier, had already grounded its remaining four 737 Max 8s.