New Zealand suspends operation of Boeing 737 Max 8 jets

WELLINGTON, March 13  — New Zealand announced Wednesday it has suspended the operation of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft to or from New Zealand after Sunday’s deadly crash in Ethiopia.
The move currently affects only one operator, Fiji Airways, said the statement released by New Zealand’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
The Director of CAA Graeme Harris said “Because of the very low utilization of this type of aircraft on flights into and out of New Zealand — for example the next scheduled flight by the type is not until tomorrow afternoon — the CAA has had time to thoroughly review concerns about the Boeing 737 MAX 8 series aircraft following the tragic accidents involving the type in Indonesian and Ethiopia.”
“The decision to suspend operations by the aircraft follows recent discussions with other aviation authorities, including the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which has a responsibility for oversight of the design of the aircraft,” Harris said.
“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 Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane of the Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa on Sunday, killing all of the 157 people on board. The fatal incident draws renewed scrutiny of the plane after the same aircraft operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air crashed in October last year, killing all 189 people on board.
A wave of aviation authorities and airlines on Tuesday joined in the grounding of Boeing 737 Max 8 jets. Europe’s aviation safety regulator issued a continent-wide ban on flights of the aircraft model following the same moves by Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and other countries.
“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,” Harris said. – XINHUA