Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) has temporarily suspended the operation of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to or from Australia after a deadly crash killed 157 people in Ethiopia at the weekend.
In a statement released on Tuesday night, CASA said while no Australian airlines operate the 737 MAX aircraft, two foreign airlines, Fiji Airways and SilkAir, fly these aircraft types to Australia. Both airlines have now suspended the aircraft’s operations in Australia.
The suspension comes after an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crashed on Sunday, shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all 157 people on board. However, safety concerns about the aircraft were first raised in October after a Lion Air flight in Indonesia crashed, killing 189 people shortly after takeoff from Jakarta.
CASA’s CEO and Director of Aviation Safety Shane Carmody said that in light of the two recent fatal accidents, the suspension was in everyone’s best interest.
“This is a temporary suspension while we wait for more information to review the safety risks of continued operations of the Boeing 737 MAX to and from Australia,” Carmody said. “CASA regrets any inconvenience to passengers but believes it is important to always put safety first.”
Australia has joined France, China, the UK, Turkey, Singapore, Germany, Ireland, Netherlands and others in keeping the planes out of the sky.
On Tuesday, Boeing, the American corporation that designs, manufactures and sells the airplanes, announced plans to upgrade the software in its 737 MAX jets, SBS reports.
The company reportedly said it had “been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX, designed to make an already safe aircraft even safer” since the first deadly crash.
In a statement released on Tuesday, the company said that safety is Boeing’s number one priority and “we have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX”.
“We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets. We’ll continue to engage with them to ensure they have the information needed to have confidence in operating their fleets,” the company said.
“The United States Federal Aviation Administration is not mandating any further action at this time, and based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators.”
According to Associated Press, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald, two US pilots have reported that an automated system seemed to cause their Boeing 737 MAX planes to tilt down. The pilots said that soon after engaging the autopilot on their aircraft, the nose tilted down suddenly. In both incidents, they recovered quickly after turning off the autopilot.