Regulators order improvements to Boeing jet after fatal crash

WASHINGTON: US regulators have ordered Boeing to make urgent improvements to its popular 737 Max 8 aircraft after the second deadly accident in a few months prompted the grounding of fleets around the world.
Singapore on Tuesday banned the use of the high-tech jet in its airspace, becoming the latest in a growing list of jurisdictions worried about the safety of the flagship plane.
On Sunday an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 went down minutes into a flight to Nairobi, killing all 157 people on board. It came after a Lion Air jet of the same model crashed in Indonesia in October, killing 189.
Investigators have recovered the black box flight recorders from the Ethiopian Airlines plane, which went down near Addis Ababa, and was carrying passengers and crew from 35 countries, including some two dozen UN staff.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said on Monday it was ordering Boeing to improve anti-stalling software and the model’s manoeuvring system, giving the company until the end of April to make the updates.
But the body ruled out grounding the fleet for now. It said investigations had “just begun” and so far no data had been provided to “draw any conclusions or take any actions.” “If we identify an issue that affects safety, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action,” it said in a statement.
Singapore regulators’ announcement that all types of MAX aircraft were banned from its airspace comes after China ordered domestic airlines to suspend commercial operations of the MAX 8, and Indonesia grounded its entire fleet of the jets for inspections.
Ethiopian Airlines has grounded its remaining MAX 8 jets, while airlines in South Africa, Brazil and Mexico have taken theirs out of service and pilots from Argentina’s Aerolineas Argentinas are refusing to fly them.
The Malaysian government ordered an urgent review of orders for several MAX aircrafts by flag carrier Malaysia Airlines.
Several airlines have said they are not cancelling MAX 8 flights, however, while US carriers appear to retain confidence in the manufacturer.
Boeing has described the MAX series as its fastest-selling family of planes, with more than 5,000 orders placed to date from about 100 customers. — AFP