Boeing Co revealed it has paused deliveries of its 737 MAX jetliner after the US and other countries grounded them earlier this week. Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers said: “We continue to build 737 MAX airplanes while assessing how the situation, including potential capacity constraints, will impact our production system.” The Seattle-based plant will continue to build the aircrafts at a production rate of 52 jets a month, he added.
The 737 MAX 8 and 9, however, are likely to remain on the ground for weeks until a software upgrade can be tested and installed, the US Federal Aviation Administration.
The decision to prevent airlines from using their 737 MAX comes after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed on Sunday and killed all the 157 people from 35 nations on board shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa.
Yared Getachew, captain of the flight, was told to return to base after he experienced flight control problems minutes after the beginning of his journey to Nairobi, Kenya, as records of the last exchange between the pilot and air traffic control show.
Tewolde GebreMariam, head of Ethiopian Airlines, told the CNN: “According to the air traffic controller’s recorded voice exchange, the pilot recorded flight control problems, so he was having difficulties with the flight control of the aeroplane.
“He asked to return back to base, and clearance was given to him.
“That was at 8.44am, at the same time the aeroplane disappeared from the radar.”
It is not yet clear which problems Captain Getachew experienced, but French investigators pledged to find answers as they took charge of the aircraft’s black boxes.
A spokesman for the Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) said they didn’t know what condition the black boxes were.
He added: “First we will try to read the data.”
This deadly crash followed the tragic end met by the 189 passengers of a Lion Air jet, which died in October 2018 when their plane plunged to the ground in Indonesia.
Mr GebreMariam said all employees were given new training after the Lion Air disaster.
Investigators have drawn similarities between the crashes, and focused their attention on the aircrafts’ anti-stall system.
The 373 MAX, the fourth generation of the 737, was launched in 2016 and gained its Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) certification on March 8 2018.