Malta closes airspace to Boeing 737 MAX

The aviation regulator said the airspace would be closed for Boeing 737 MAX as of 8pm on Tuesday following a recommendation by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency

The Boeing 737 MAX is an American narrow-body aircraft series designed and produced by Boeing Commercial Airplanes
The Boeing 737 MAX is an American narrow-body aircraft series designed and produced by Boeing Commercial Airplanes

Malta’s airspace will be closed to Boeing 737 MAX aircraft as of 8pm on Tuesday evening, Malta’s Civil Aviation Directorate (CAD) has said.

A spokesperson for the directorate said the decision had been taken following a communication by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

“At this early stage of the related investigation, it cannot be excluded that similar causes may have contributed to both events...Based on all available information, EASA considers that further actions may be necessary to ensure the continued airworthiness of the two affected models," EASA said in an Emergency Airworthiness Directive on Tuesday. 

"For the reasons described above, pending the availability of more information, EASA has decided to suspend all flight operations of the two affected models."

The directive applies to Boeing 737-8 MAX and 737-9 MAX aircraft.

Countries in Europe are grounding the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft over lack of definite information following the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday
Countries in Europe are grounding the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft over lack of definite information following the fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday

EASA said it had offered its assistance in supporting Ethiopian authorities’ investigations and that it was continuously analysing the data as it becomes available.

The CAD spokesperson also noted that there were no 737 MAX aircraft registered in Malta, nor were any aircraft of this type scheduled for commercials flights to or from Malta in the coming days

On Tuesday it was reported that the UK Civil Aviation Authority had decided “to stop any commercial passenger flights from any operator arriving, departing or overflying UK airspace”.

France, Germany, Australia and Singapore announced they would be taking similar precautions.

The decision follows the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday which happened minutes into a flight to Nairobi, killing all 157 people on board. A similar incident back in October saw 189 people killed when a Lion Air jet of the same model crashed in Indonesia.

While EASA has recommended that flight operations be suspended, the US’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has so far said that there did not appear to be any link between the two accidents.

The airline’s chief executive said the pilots had told air traffic control they were having “flight control problems
The airline’s chief executive said the pilots had told air traffic control they were having “flight control problems"

In a safety bulletin sent to Civil Aviation Authorities round the globe by the FAA stated that “the National Transportation Safety Board as an accredited representative, and the FAA as technical advisors”, were both supporting Ethiopian authorities in their investigations.

“All data will be closely examined during this investigation, and the FAA will take appropriate action if data indicates the need to do so,” the FAA said. 

“External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018. However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions.”

There are currently 387 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, operated by 59 operators, currently in operation around the world.  

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