Cyprus bans Boeing 737 MAX flights


Aviation officials in Cyprus have banned all flights on the Boeing 737 MAX following a European directive issued after an Ethiopia Airlines plane crashed on Sunday.

The crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 involved a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, which came down shortly after takeoff in Addis Ababa claiming 157 lives. Authorities do not know what caused the accident, but the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) issued a directive on Tuesday out of an abundance of caution, suspending all commercial flights on the Boeing 737 MAX series.

The Transport Ministry issued a statement on Tuesday evening shortly after the EASA directive had been issued. “Cyprus, in compliance with the [EASA] directive, is suspending all fight operations of Boeing 737-8 MAX and 737-9 MAX over its air space,” the ministry said.

A number of European countries already banned the MAX planes prior to the EASA directive, while other countries also joined in, including China, Russia, and Turkey.

But the United States did not ground the planes, citing lack of evidence that might affect 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.

Last October, 189 people aboard a Boeing 737 MAX 8 died when the flight operated by Lion Air went down in Indonesia. 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.

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.

[Kathimerini Cyprus]