Aviation authorities in China, Indonesia and Ethiopia ordered airlines to ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes Monday after one crashed in Ethiopia, killing all 157 people on board.
The crash of the Ethiopian Airlines jet shortly after it took off from Addis Ababa on Sunday is drawing renewed scrutiny of the plane just four months after a similar crash of the same model that killed 189 people in Indonesia.
Chicago-based Boeing said it did not intend to issue any new guidance to its customers. It does plan to send a technical team to the crash site to help Ethiopian and U.S. investigators.
The 737 is the best-selling airliner in history, and the Max, the newest version of it with more fuel-efficient engines, is a central part of Boeing’s strategy to compete with European rival Airbus.
“Safety is our number one priority and we are taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this accident, working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved,” the company said in a statement.
A spokesman for Ethiopian Airlines, Asrat Begashaw, said the carrier had grounded its remaining four 737 Max 8 planes until further notice as an “extra safety precaution.”
The airline had been using five new 737 Max 8s and awaiting delivery of 25 more. Asrat said the search for body parts and debris from the crash was continuing.
China’s Civil Aviation Administration said that it ordered airlines to ground all 737 Max 8 aircraft, in line with the principle of “zero tolerance for security risks.”
It said it would issue further notices after consulting with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing.
Chinese carriers and leasing companies operate 96 Boeing 737 8 MAXs, according to the government, with dozens more believed to be on order. China Southern Airlines is one of Boeing’s biggest customers for the aircraft.
Indonesia also grounded 11 737 Max 8s for inspections to ensure flight safety and that the planes are airworthy, said Director General of Air Transportation Polana B. Pramesti.
Cayman Airways also said it was temporarily grounding two Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.
Real time flight radar apps showed dozens of the aircraft still operating around the globe.
The head of Indonesia’s national transport safety agency, Soerjanto Thahjono, offered to aid the Ethiopian investigation into Sunday’s crash.
The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board likewise said it was sending a team to help Ethiopian authorities. Boeing and the U.S. investigative agency are also involved in the probe into the Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October.
Like the Ethiopian Airlines crash, which happened minutes after the jet’s takeoff from Addis Ababa, the Lion Air jet that crashed off Indonesia had erratic speed during the few minutes it was in the air.
Safety experts cautioned, however, against drawing too many parallels between the two disasters.
“I do hope though that people will wait for the first results of the investigation instead of jumping to conclusions based on the very little facts that we know so far,” said Harro Ranter, founder of the Aviation Safety Network, which compiles information about accidents worldwide.
The situation will be better understood after investigators analyze the Ethiopian plane’s black boxes, said William Waldock, an aviation-safety professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. An airline official said Monday that the black box and cockpit voice recorder had been found, but the box was partially damaged.
Waldock said the way the planes both crashed — a fatal nosedive — was likely to raise suspicion. Boeing will likely look more closely at the flight-management system and automation on the Max, he said.
“Investigators are not big believers in coincidence,” he said.
Boeing has delivered about 350 737 Max planes to scores of airlines and has orders for more than 5,000.
Shares in the company fell more than 9 percent Monday in pre-market trading.
Alan Diehl, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said reports of large variations in vertical speed during the Ethiopian jetliner’s ascent were “clearly suggesting a potential controllability problem.”
Other possible causes include engine problems, pilot error, weight load, sabotage or bird strikes, he said.
Ethiopian has a good reputation and the company’s CEO told reporters no problems were spotted before Sunday’s fight. But investigators also will look into the plane’s maintenance, which may have been an issue in the Lion Air crash.
Days after the Indonesian accident, Boeing notified airlines that faulty information from a sensor could cause the plane to automatically point the nose down. The automated system kicks in if sensors indicate that a plane is about to lose lift, or go into an aerodynamic stall. Gaining speed by diving can prevent a stall.
The notice reminded pilots of the procedure for handling such a situation, which is to disable the system causing the automatic nose-down movements.
Indonesian investigators are examining whether faulty readings from a sensor might have triggered the automatic nose-down command to the plane, which the Lion Air pilots fought unsuccessfully to overcome.
The Lion Air plane’s flight data recorder showed problems with an airspeed indicator on at least four previous flights, although the airline initially said the problem was fixed.
Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in December that the Max is a safe plane.
Tunisian President is dead
President of Tunisia Beji Caid Essebsi has died at the age of 92 after being taken to a military hospital on Wednesday for the second time in the last month.
Beji Caid Essebsi was a Tunisian politician who was the fifth President of Tunisia from December 2014 until his death. Previously he served as Minister of Foreign Affairs from 1981 to 1986 and as Prime Minister from February 2011 to December 2011.
The presidency was not immediately available for an official comment.
Hafedh Caid Essebsi, the president’s son, said that Essebsi was hospitalized on Wednesday after he suffered the effects of last month’s crisis, confirming an earlier report on local radio.
Essebsi, a major player in the country’s transition to democracy since 2011, had been hospitalized late last month and spent a week in hospital after suffering a “severe health crisis”.
But the president has only appeared twice since leaving the hospital on July 1.
Essebsi has been a prominent figure in Tunisia since the overthrow of the veteran autocrat, Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali, in 2011, which was followed by uprisings against authoritarian leaders across the Middle East, including in nearby Libya and Egypt.
Parliamentary elections are expected to be held on October 6 with a presidential vote following on November 17. They will be the third set of polls in which Tunisians can vote freely following the 2011 revolution.
Boris Johnson wants Brexit renegotiated
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sent an ultimatum to Brussels to renegotiate Brexit or face the prospect of Britain leaving the European Union (EU) without a deal.
In his first statement to parliament, Johnson said: “We are ready to negotiate, in good faith, an alternative (Brexit deal).
“We will throw ourselves into these negotiations with the greatest energy and determination.”
Johnson expressed the hope that EU leaders would “rethink their current refusal” to renegotiate Britain’s EU withdrawal agreement.
“If they do not, we will have to leave without an agreement,” he said.
He added that he had asked his new ministers to make preparations for a no-deal Brexit their “top priority”.
Johnson insisted that Britain must leave the bloc by the delayed exit date of Oct. 31, with or without a deal.
#DidYouKnow That Ghana deported 994 Nigerians since 2018?
The Nigerian government has disclosed that 994 of its nationals were deported from Ghana – Abike Dabiri
The Nigerian government did not disclose why they were deported but said 508 of them were deported within the last six months, while 486 were repatriated in 2018.
This was made known by the Senior Special Assistant to President Muhammadu Buhari on Diaspora Affairs, Abike Dabiri-Erewa.
Dabiri-Erewa made the disclosure while meeting a Nigerian professor, Augustine Nwagbara, who was sacked by the University of Education, Winneba, for incitement.
She warned of dire consequences if its nationals are shabbily treated in Ghana and on the African continent.
She said, “It will not go down well on the continent if Nigeria decides to do what they do to Nigerians over there. We demand respect.
“If a Nigerian commits a crime, you should deal with that particular person rather than generalize issues by punishing those who are innocent of the crime.”
Lagarde leaves IMF
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) Managing Director, Christine Lagarde, has resigned her appointment and will be leaving the Bretton Woods institution on September 12.
IMF’s Executive Board in a statement yesterday in Washington DC, said it had accepted her resignation and would soon kick-start the process to find her replacement.
“Today the IMF Executive Board accepted Managing Director Christine Lagarde’s resignation from the Fund with effect from September 12, 2019.
“With this decision by Managing Director Lagarde, the IMF Executive Board will initiate promptly the process of selecting the next managing director and will communicate in a timely fashion.
“The Executive Board has the utmost confidence in Mr. David Lipton, who remains Acting Managing Director of the Fund in the interim period,” it said.
Lagarde had announced in a statement yesterday that she had submitted her resignation from the IMF and it would go into effect in September.
“I have met with the Executive Board and submitted my resignation from the Fund with effect from September 12, 2019.
“The relinquishment of my responsibilities as managing director announced previously will remain in effect until then.
“With greater clarity now on the process for my nomination as ECB President and the time it will take, I have made this decision in the best interest of the Fund, as it will expedite the selection process for my successor,” Lagarde said.
According to her, while the Executive Board would be taking the needed steps to proceed toward selecting a new managing director, David Lipton would remain the Fund’s acting managing director.
On July 9, the EU Economic and Financial Affairs Council adopted a formal recommendation to nominate Lagarde as president of the European Central Bank.
Her nomination will now be discussed by the ECB governing council and the European Parliament, and the final appointment by European Council in October.
She was named as the next Managing Director of the IMF for a five-year term, starting on July 5, 2011, replacing Dominique Strauss-Khan.
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