Greece and Cyprus have joined a list of countries banning the new Boeing 737 Max 8 after fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia brought worries the planes were downed because of a faulty safety system that pilots couldn’t override.
Speaking to state-run Athens-Macedonian news agency, Hellenic Civil Aviation Authority Commander Konstantinos Lintzerakos said that all airports have been ordered to prohibit flights of this type of aircraft in the country’s air space as of March 12, following a similar announcement by Cypriot officials.
The crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane killed 157 people on March 10, five months after a similar Indonesian Lion Air jet plunged into the ocean, killing 189, with both coming minutes after takeoff and fears a computer system was responsible.
The United States has refused to ground the jets with Boeing being a major international trade company although safety experts have pleaded for the airliners to be kept out of the air until a thorough investigation of what caused the cashes.
Authorities do not know what caused the Indonesia accident, but the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a directive, suspending all commercial flights on the Boeing 737 MAX series with the bad news hurting the company financially and in the markets.
“Cyprus, in compliance with the (EASA) directive, is suspending all fight operations of Boeing 737-8 MAX and 737-9 MAX over its airspace,” the ministry said.
The US said despite two crashes with eerie similarities killing so many people that there wasn’t enough evidence to ground the jets and that there’s no proof yet of anything affecting the “airworthiness of the aircraft.” The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said it did not see any “systemic performance issues” while adding they were ready to take immediate and appropriate action if necessary.
In both air crashes, the plane descended sharply more than once as pilots wrestled with the controls before going down.
In a separate incident in the US, last November, a pilot reported trouble engaging the autopilot after takeoff during the leveling off of the plane.
It was not clear whether anti-stall guidance to pilots or other performance issues needed to be addressed by Boeing. Some reports said a malfunctioning air speed indicator was being suspected, media reports said.
But aviation agencies around the world were calling for an immediate investigation into the two air disasters before they can allow planes be put back in service.