Amid the global aviation chaos caused by the grounding of Boeing 737MAX aircraft in the wake of Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines tragedy, comes the news that a software upgrade planned for the planes is delayed because of a 35-day United States government shutdown in December and January.
The Wall Street Journal originally reported on February 10 that the “safety fixes” for planes in the Boeing series, prompted by the Indonesian Lion Air Flight 610 accident in October, were delayed by the shutdown and negotiations between U.S. aviation officials and Boeing. They will not be available until at least April.
It must be stressed that the investigation into the cause of the crash of Flight ET302 – led by Ethiopian officials with assistance from the U.S – is just beginning, and no determination has yet been made, but expert observers have noticed similarities to what happened in the Indonesian crash. There were no survivors in either incident.
Meanwhile, countries around the globe have grounded the Boeing aircraft within their borders, though the United States waited until Wednesday afternoon to ground all of the MAX8 and MAX9 versions.
South Africa’s Comair was one of the first to take its Boeing 737MAX out of service, following Ethiopia and China. Individual nations across Europe followed suit, with the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) announcing that at 1900 UTC, or 10 p.m. local time Tuesday in Addis Ababa, it was instituting a ban on all Boeing 737 MAX8 and MAX9 aircraft. Some carriers, including Norwegian Air, told passengers to expect cancellations and delays. Egypt joined the growing list on Wednesday.
Boeing said in a statement Tuesday that it stands by the 737MAX. “We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets,” the company said. “We’ll continue to engage with them to ensure they have the information needed to have confidence in operating their fleets.”
Image: Ethiopian Airlines