New Zealand, Fiji ground Boeing 737 MAX Boris Jancic, Australian Associated Press March 13, 2019 4:01am
New Zealand and Fiji have joined the list of countries grounding Boeing's 737 MAX 8 aircraft after one of the planes crashed in Ethiopia, killing 157 people on board.
The Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand on Wednesday announced it would be suspending operation of the plane in the country, following talks with counterparts from the US Federal Aviation Administration and other agencies.
"The CAA's assessment has taken into consideration the level of uncertainty regarding the cause of the recent Ethiopian Airlines accident plus its review of the aircraft design," the agency said.
"This is a temporary suspension while we continue to monitor the situation closely."
Only Fiji Airways operates the plane in New Zealand and the company later in the day announced it would also be grounding its fleet of 737 MAXs, following an earlier suspension of the aircraft in Australia.
"The aircraft has proven to be reliable and efficient, and continuous flight data monitoring has not identified any issues that would give rise to a cause for concern," a joint statement from Fiji Airways and the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji said.
"However ... in response to the concerns expressed by the general public, both Fiji Airways and the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji have agreed that the most appropriate course is to impose this temporary grounding."
Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority temporarily suspended Fiji Airways and another international carrier from flying their 737 MAXs to or from the country on Tuesday.
Singapore's SilkAir had already grounded their fleet, a CASA spokesman said in a statement, while Fiji Airways would have to substitute two planes.
The aircraft has been suspended in countries across Europe and Asia since an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 fell from the sky minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa headed for Nairobi on Sunday.
Meanwhile, US regulators have bucked the trend by not suspending flights, the Federal Aviation Administration acting administrator Dan Elwell saying an agency review "shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft".
The crash came five months after the same model, flown by Lion Air, crashed off the coast of Indonesia in October, killing 189.
Boeing said it is closely watching the situation and monitoring any updates from crash investigators.
The manufacturer said it would enact software and training upgrades across the fleet in the coming weeks.