Global Backlash Over Boeing Jet Growing After Deadly Ethiopia Crash

The European Union's aviation safety agency has banned the model of a Boeing aircraft that was involved in two fatal crashes, including an accident on Sunday that killed nearly 160 passengers and crew members.

"Following the tragic accident of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 involving a Boeing 737 Max 8, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency is taking every necessary step to ensure the safety of passengers," it said.

The decision came after France, Britain, Germany, Malaysia and Oman joined nearly 10 other countries in suspending the Boeing 737 Max 8 passenger jet from operating in their respective airspace after its second fatal crash in five months.

Airlines in countries across the globe, including China, Turkey, Indonesia, Brazil and Mexico, Australia, Singapore, South Korea and Norway also have grounded all the Max 8 jets in their fleets. One-hundred-and-fifty-seven passengers and crew were killed when one of the jets, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, crashed Sunday shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa.

Statements from the countries' civil aviation authorities say the suspensions are temporary while the investigation into the tragedy continues. The suspensions by Australia, Singapore and South Korea affect Fiji Airlines, SilkAir Airlines and Eastar Jet in those respective countries. The Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 was the same model as the one that crashed into the Java Sea in October, just minutes after taking off from Jakarta, killing 189 people.

At least two witnesses say they saw smoke coming from the back of the plane before it crashed. Investigators have found the flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder, which they hope will give them clues as to why the Boeing 737 Max 8 jet went down en route to Nairobi.

Indonesian investigators said information from the flight data recorder showed the plane's automatic safety system repeatedly pushed the plane's nose downward despite the pilots' desperate attempts to maintain control.

Boeing says, however, it has no reason to ground the popular aircraft and does not plan to issue new recommendations about the aircraft to customers. Aviation experts from the U.S., Israel, the United Arab Emirates and Kenya have joined other countries in the Ethiopian-led investigation.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said Boeing should soon complete upgrades to the automated anti-stall system that is suspected of contributing to the deadly October crash in the Java Sea. On Monday, the FAA reiterated the Boeing 737 Max 8 was safe to fly. But officials said the agency's position could change if it learns the plane poses a safety risk.

U.S. President Donald Trump opined on the crash Tuesday, posting on Twitter that airliners are "becoming too complex to fly." Boeing has some 350 737 MAX 8 planes in service around the world and more than 5,000 on order.

Meanwhile, tributes and condolences poured in Monday for the victims of Sunday's crash, who hailed from at least 35 countries and included 22 United Nations staff members heading to a U.N. environmental conference in Nairobi.

Flags at the conference were lowered to half-staff Monday. The Nairobi conference and a General Assembly meeting in New York both opened with moments of silence. "A global tragedy has hit close to home, and the United Nations is united in grief. I extend my deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of all the victims, to the government and people of Ethiopia, and all these affected by this disaster," Secretary General Antonio Guterres said in New York.

The victims were also remembered at U.N. refugee headquarters in Geneva and at the State Department in Washington.

Menur Nur Mohamed lost his brother Ahmed on the doomed plane. Ahmed Nur Mohamed was the co-pilot.

"Me and my brother grew up together. He wasn't only my brother, but also my friend," Mohamed told Tsion Tadesse of VOA's Horn of Africa Service.

Mohamed said he learned of his brother's death when the head of Ethiopian Airlines mentioned his name.

Boeing shares plunged seven percent Monday on Wall Street.

Source: Voice of America

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