BANGKOK – Thailand’s Civil Aviation Authority has joined several other countries including the US in grounding Boeing’s 737 MAX jets because of safety concerns after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash that killed 157 people, the second disaster involving the airliner in less than five months.
The Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand said Thai Lion Air’s fleet of MAX 9s would be suspended for a week starting Wednesday. The low-cost airline said no flights would be cancelled as it would switch to other types of aircrafts as replacements.
Nations around the world, including an initially reluctant United States, have suspended the 737 Max in operation, though airlines are largely coping by switching planes.
Japan became the latest nation to suspend the 737 MAX planes on Thursday. And airline Garuda Indonesia said there was a possibility it would cancel its 20-strong order of 737 MAXs.
The investigation of Sunday’s crash has added urgency since the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday grounded the 737 MAX aircraft, citing satellite data and evidence from the scene that indicated some similarities and “the possibility of a shared cause” with October’s crash in Indonesia that killed 189 people.
Though it maintains the planes are safe, Boeing has supported the FAA move. Its stock is down about 11 percent since the crash, wiping more than $26 billion off its market value. It fell 1 percent on Thursday.
A software fix for the 737 MAX that Boeing has been working on since the Lion Air crash in October in Indonesia will take months to complete, the FAA said on Wednesday.
Under international rules, Ethiopians are leading the investigation but France’s BEA will conduct black box analysis as an adviser. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) was also sending three investigators to assist.
Source: Reuters, Thai PBS