New Zealand adds name to list of countries grounding Boeing 737 Max 8

March 13 (UPI) — New Zealand added its name to the growing list of countries suspending service of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft following last week’s tragic Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people.

The Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand said Tuesday night that it has suspended all operation of the controversial aircraft to and from the archipelago nation.

The suspension will only affect Fiji Airways as there is no other airline that flies the craft, it said.

“This is a temporary suspension while we continue to monitor the situation closely and analyze information as it comes to hand to determine the safety risks of continued operation of the Boeing 737 MAX to and from New Zealand,” said Graeme Harris, director of New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority.

The decision was made considering the suspension will only affect one carrier, Fiji Airways, as it is the only company that flies that model to New Zealand, he said.

Its next flight to the country was scheduled for Thursday, which Harris said gave the aviation authority enough time to review concerns over the 737 Max 8.

Over 30 countries and counting have grounded the Boeing 737 Max 8 including India, the European Union and China.

The United States has been a notable holdout. On Monday, the Federal Aviation Administration said the planes were airworthy.

On Tuesday, Boeing said in a statement that its number one priority is safety and that it is aware of regulatory agencies grounding its planes.

“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,” it said.

Boeing also said that based on information currently available and that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is not mandating any further action, “we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators.”

Boeing previously said that it will make a software update at the request of the FAA.

The Ethiopian Airlines incident is the second crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in under six months. In October 2018, an Indonesian Lion Air flight also crashed shortly after takeoff, killing 189 people.

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