Boeing 737 Max operations have been suspended in several Asian countries and territories

MUSCAT, Oman—The General Authority of Civil Aviation, which governs air traffic in the Sultanate of Oman, announced on March 12 it would temporarily suspend operations of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft within the Arabian Peninsula country. The announcement was the latest in a string of decisions to scrutinize the Boeing 737 Max aircraft after an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed in East Africa, reportedly killing everyone aboard only minutes after takeoff.

            “#Urgent The General Authority of Civil Aviation decides to suspend the operation of Boeing 737 Max to and from all Oman’s airports to further notice,” Oman’s aviation authority stated on Twitter, March 12.

            A second Tweet stated: “#PACA is temporarily suspending operations of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into and out of all Omani airports until further notice.”

            Oman Air, the country’s state-owned airline, operates five Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, according to the Associated Press. The air carrier cancelled all flights aboard a Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 unveiled in Seattle, Washington. (Ask the Beav photo)

The Boeing 737 Max 8 unveiled in Seattle, Washington. (Ask the Beav photo)

            “All Oman Air flights operating by Boeing 737 Max will be suspended as soon as possible,” a statement posted on Oman Air’s Twitter page said.

            “Certain flights on 14, 15 and 16 March to a number of destinations have been cancelled,” a second Tweet stated.

            Oman joins a long list of countries banning the Boeing 737 Max 8 from its airspace.

            Aviation authority officials in China, Cyprus, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Malaysia, Mongoloa, Singapore, South Korea and Turkey also announced it would ban Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft from its airspace. There are nearly four-dozen countries, in all, who have banned or limited Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft within their respective airspaces, according to news reports or official statements.

            The United States was one of the last countries to allow Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft to fly, but Pres. Donald Trump ordered the aircraft to be grounded on March 13, it was announced.

            Southwest Airlines operates the highest number of Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft; the air carrier has 34 of the aircraft. American Airlines is second on the list, operating 24 Boeing 737 Super Max 8 aircraft; Air Canada and China Southern also operate 24 Boeing 737 Super Max 8 aircraft.

            Canada was the latest to announce the Boeing 737 Max aircraft would be banned from the country, also in response to the recent Ethiopian Airlines crash.

            “Following advice from Transport Canada Civil Aviation experts, as a precautionary measure, I am issuing a safety notice to address this issue,” Marc Garneau, Canada’s transportation minister, said in a March 13 press conference. “This safety notice restricts commercial passenger flights from any air operator, both domestic and foreign, of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircraft - from arriving, departing, or overflying Canadian airspace.”

            Garneau also cited the October 2018 Lion Air accident in Indonesia during his statement. A domestic Lion Air flight from Jakarta, Indonesia to Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia reportedly crashed in the Java Sea, about 12 minutes after takeoff. The aircraft was a Boeing 737 Max 8.

            An investigation of the Lion Air crash almost six months ago indicated pilots might have struggled with the aircraft’s automated anti-stalling system, BBC news reported. The same news report, however, added human error might have contributed to the Ethiopian Airlines crash and it is unclear whether the anti-stalling system was a factor.

            Authorities have reportedly recovered the black box from the Ethiopian Airlines crash, which crashed on March 10. All 157 people on board (149 passengers and eight crew) were killed shortly after their flight took off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital city. The flight was headed for Nairobi, the capital city of neighboring Kenya.