Aviation

BOEING UDATE: US and Canada finally boycott MAX 8 aircraft, while Melbourne manufacturer could suffer

Christian Fleetwood

The US and Canada have joined the global boycott of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, following the Ethiopian Airlines disaster which claimed the lives of 157 people.

As reported by CNN, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) identified similarities between the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines flight and the Lion Air crash in Indonesia, leading the agency to ground all Boeing 737 Max planes on Wednesday.

President Donald Trump said Wednesday that the United States will ground all Boeing 737 Max planes immediately, becoming the last country to boycott the aircraft after the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash.

“Pilots have been notified, airlines have been all notified. Airlines are agreeing with this. The safety of the American people and all people is our paramount concern,” Trump said from the White House.

It follows concerns voiced by Trump on Twitter yesterday that airplanes had become “far too complex to fly”.

CBC has also reported that Canada is banning all MAX 8 flights from its national airspace, and grounding all MAX 8 aircraft.

“This safety notice restricts commercial passenger flights from any air operator, both domestic and foreign, of the Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft from arriving, departing, or overflying Canadian airspace,” Transport Minister Marc Garneau told reporters yesterday.

The move follows mounting pressure from the US’s Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA), who had been calling for American Airlines to follow the lead of more than 40 countries around the world by grounding its Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes.

The two nations were among the last to holdout on temporarily banning the aircraft, following the deadly Ethiopian crash earlier this week.

With the recent deadly crash in Ethiopia and the Lion Air flight disaster of October last year, a combined 346 people have died on Boeing 737 MAX 8 model planes.

In the lead up to America’s ban of the MAX 8, ABC News reported that airline pilots on at least two US flights had raised concerns that an automated system seemed to cause their Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes to tilt down suddenly. The pilots told ABC News that these flights occurred last year.

In November last year, a report based on black box data from the Indonesian Lion Air jet disaster, which resulted in the deaths of all of its 189 passengers, showed the pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 struggled to maintain control, as an automatic safety system repeatedly forced the plane’s nose down.

Stuff reported the data also cited equipment failures and the airline’s safety measures as factors in the disaster.

The MAX 8 is currently banned in more than 40 countries around the world, with Australia, China and the European Union among the earliest to boycott the aircraft.

Impact from Boeing disaster could hit home even harder

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported the recent Ethiopian Airlines crisis could hit Boeing’s manufacturing plant in Melbourne, where a new production line has been set up to make a key component of the 737 MAX 8.

The uncertainty comes as Boeing’s factory in Port Melbourne is set to boost production on its AT winglets for MAX aircraft, with its first delivery of wing-ends due to be shipped to the United States next month.

SMH reported that Boeing’s factory in Melbourne employs about 1100 people, and is also the sole site globally for assembling the hinged trailing edge, called ailerons, for the wings of all 737 series aircraft.

With the recent disasters surrounding the 737 MAX 8, and uncertainty over its future for the manufacturer, the Melbourne factory could be at risk of a future stall in the aircraft’s production.

Boeing has announced it will release new flight control software in the wake of a second crash involving its 737 MAX fleet.

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