15, March 2019
Russia, Japan, and Tunisia follow a host of countries in either grounding or banning takeoffs, overflights, and landings of Boeing 737 MAX planes following a recent fatal crash.
Russia’s Interfax news agency said on Thursday the country’s aviation authority had grounded the only two such aircraft that it owns among its 96-strong fleet.
An Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX en route from Addis Ababa to the Kenyan capital of Nairobi crashed a few minutes after takeoff on Sunday, killing all the 157 people, mostly foreign nationals, on board.
The cause of the crash is still unknown; however, the pilot had reported difficulties and asked to return to the Ethiopian capital before the incident, the airline has said.
Also on Thursday, Japan’s Land and Transport Ministry banned the medium-haul planes from landing in the country.
No Japanese airline company possesses Boeing 737 MAX planes, while All Nippon Airways (ANA) plans to buy 30 units of the aircraft. The ministry, however, has not issued any instruction on the pending purchase, an official told the agency, adding, “Primarily, each private company should make its own decision.”
Tunisia likewise does not fly any of the aircraft, but barred them from using its airspace and airports.
Romania’s Blue Air, meanwhile, said it would take a decision on its order for 12 Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets pending the results of an investigation into the tragedy.
A growing number of countries, including the United States, Canada, Australia, India and China, have now grounded or banned Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes inside their airspace.
The recent crash is the second of a Boring 737 plane in five months. In October 2018, a Lion Air jet crashed into the sea off Indonesia’s island of Java, only minutes after taking off from the capital Jakarta. The crash claimed the lives of 189 people.