Boeing 737 Max: Airlines face backlash for still flying troubled plane after Ethiopia crash

UK airlines have refused to take action and are continuing to run the flights – despite safety fears following the second air disaster in less than five months.

So far, China, Indonesia, Mexico, Ethiopia Brazil, South Africa and the Cayman Islands have suspended flights using the passenger plane.

Australia this morning became the latest country to ground the Boeing – but some British and Irish passengers will continue to fly on the troubled plane under certain airlines.

Norweigan Airlines and holiday giant TUI are the only airlines currently using the planes in Britain.

TUI Group said: "We have no indication that we can't operate our 737 Max in a safe way like we do with all other planes in our network."

TUI has the only five 737 Max 8 aircraft operated by a UK-based airline and is due to begin flying a sixth later this week.

Norwegian Airlines has 18 in its fleet and serves London Gatwick, Manchester and Edinburgh.

They also confirmed they are in "close dialogue" with the manufacturer.


The UK Civil Aviation Authority is working closely with the European Aviation Safety Agency over the planes.

Worried holidaymakers now fear using the planes to fly in and out of Britain.

Michael Bibby said: "TUI need to ground the death plane until Boeing provide a proper fix!"

While Lucy Barcoo asked TUI: "Can you please tell me which type of aircraft my flight home from Ibiza will be on please? Very concerned about the Boeing 737 Max."

Kenneth Bird tweeted: "Hi there @TUIUKcares @TUIUK @TUIGroup how come you haven’t grounded your Boeing 737 Max 8s? They fly over my house! Many other airlines have grounded theirs as a precautionary move. #Boeing #737Max8".

James Bunker said: "@TUIUK we are due to fly to Fuerteventura the day after tomorrow with you guys but are a little worried about the recent news for your Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. Can you confirm it’s 100% safe? @TUIUKcares #tui #".

Airlines continuing to use the planes

Norwegian Air – "in close dialogue with Boeing"

Flydubai – "monitoring"

TUI Group – "close contact with manufacturer"

Air Italy – "in constant dialogue with the authorities"

S7 – "constantly keeping in touch with the manufacturer"

Southwest Airlines – "in contact with Boeing"

Fiji Airways – "training… meets highest safety standards"

WestJet – "monitoring the situation closely"

LOT Polish Airlines – "closely monitoring the situation"

American Airlines – "full confidence in the aircraft… will closely monitor the investigation"

Transport minister Baroness Sugg said: "The current position is more information is needed to warrant any grounding decision."

But former pilot and Labour peer Lord Tunnicliffe has urged the Government to immediately ground the plane following the crash.

He said: "In my day we had a rule – If it can go wrong it will go wrong. The industry seems to have lost sight of this rule. I believe everybody involved will be shown to be in dereliction of their duty."


Sunday’s tragedy follows the Lion Air flight that went down over the Java Sea in late October, killing all 189 people on board.

Boeing has now revealed it was developing software following the Lion Air disaster that would make "an already safe aircraft even safer".
Following the Indonesia crash, questions were raised over the safety of the planes after investigators said there were problems with its airspeed indicator and angle of attack (AoA) sensors.

This led to fears the jets could have a fault that causes them to nose-dive.

A warning was sent to operators about the sensor problem after it emerged the Lion air flight suffered issues the day before the horror.

But the US Federal Aviation Administration has told airlines it believes Boeing's 737 Max 8 model to be airworthy.


A latest version of the best-selling commercial jet in history, the Boeing 737 Max 8 is operated by scores of airlines around the world – including in the UK.

There are currently 350 in service with airlines around the world – but thousands more are on order.

The model is one of four varieties of 737 Max aircraft produced by the US aerospace giant.

Boeing says it has taken more than 4,700 orders for the single-aisle family of planes which can carry up to 230 passengers.

In Britain, holiday operator Tui Airways has ordered 32 Max aircraft as part of a major fleet overhaul and took delivery of its first Max 8 in December.

Airlines that have grounded the jet

Shenzhen Airlines

China Eastern Airlines

Air China

Okay Airways

Kunming Airlines

Ethiopian Airlines

Cayman Airways

Garuda Indonesia

Lion Air


Gol Airways


Aerolineas Argentinas


Tui was the first UK-registered airline to receive one of the new Boeing aircraft and plans to roll out its orders over the next five years.

Based at Manchester Airport, the planes are due to ferry passengers to a range of holiday destinations from the north-west.

The carrier's German parent company is reported to have bought 54 Max 8s.

Other airlines in Europe to use the Max aircraft include Air Italy, Lot Polish Airlines and Norwegian.


The flight came down just after departing Addis Ababa carrying 149 passengers from 35 countries and eight crew members.

Among those who died were nine British citizens, eight Americans and Italians, 32 Kenyans, nine Ethiopians, eight Chinese, seven French, 18 Canadians, one Irish, six Egyptians, five from the Netherlands, and four from India and Slovakia.

The pilot, who had an "excellent flying record", had reported difficulties and asked to turn back, adding the plane had "no known technical problems".

Senior captain Yared Getachew had a "commendable performance" having completed more than 8,000 hours in the air, an Ethiopian Airlines spokesman said.

The plane had flown from Johannesburg to Addis earlier on Sunday morning, undergoing "rigorous" testing on February 4, the airline said.

A horrified witness said it swerved and dipped and was belching smoke from the rear before it crashed.

He also said the Boeing 737 Max 8 was making a strange noise before hitting the ground with a "large boom" and a shower of flaming luggage.

Crash investigators yesterday recovered the black box flight recorder from a crater the size of a basketball court.

The harrowing final seconds of flight ET302 were revealed by flight radar data, which showed it repeatedly climbed, fell and climbed again soon after takeoff

Aviation experts said this "unstable vertical speed" is extremely unusual and planes usually climb steadily.

Crash investigators from the US National Transportation Safety Board will arrive today to help piece together what went wrong, the US ambassador to Ethiopia said.

Where were the victims from?

The Ethiopian Airlines plane that crashed today was carrying passengers from more than 30 countries, the airline's CEO told journalists.

He said they included 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Italians, eight Chinese citizens, eight Americans, nine British citizens, seven French citizens, six Egyptians, five Dutch citizens, four Indians, four people from Slovakia, three Austrians, three Swedes, three Russians, two Moroccans, two Spaniards, two Poles and two Israelis.

Belgium, Ireland Indonesia, Somalia, Norway, Serbia, Togo, Mozambique, Rwanda, Sudan, Uganda and Yemen each had one citizen onboard.

Four of those onboard were listed as using United Nations passports and their nationalities were not immediately clear.

It had been reported seven Brits were among the dead but last night two more were added to the toll.

Victims include UN worker Joanna Toole, 36, from Exmouth, Devon, aid worker Sam Pegram, 25, from Penwortham, Lancs, Plymouth uni graduate Sarah Auffret, who also had French nationality, probation worker Joseph Waithaka, 55, of Hull, and Somali-born mum and son Sarah Hassan Said and Nasrudin Abdulkadir. UN engineer Michael Ryan, of Cork, Ireland, was also among the dead.

The state-owned Ethiopian Airlines calls itself Africa's largest carrier and has ambitions of becoming the gateway to the continent.

Its last major crash was in January 2010, when a flight from Beirut went down shortly after take-off.


The British death toll was today revised from seven to at least nine.

The Foreign Office said: "Our staff at the British Embassy in Addis Ababa are continuing to work with the relevant authorities in Ethiopia to obtain further information.
"We extend our deepest condolences to all those who have lost loved ones and those affected by this tragic event."

Among the British victims are Sam Pegram, 25, from Penwortham, Lancashire, who worked for the Norwegian Refugee Council and was on his way to Nairobi.

Many of the 149 passengers were heading to a United Nations environment conference in Nairobi, including animal expert Joanna Toole, 36, from Devon.

Polar tourism expert Sarah Auffret, who had dual British and French nationality, and dad Joseph Waithaka, 55, from Hull, also died.

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