Nine Britons now confirmed dead in Ethiopian Airlines crash

At least nine Britons were travelling on the Ethiopian Airlines aircraft that crashed on Sunday, the Foreign Office has confirmed.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 took off from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia for Nairobi in Kenya, killing all 157 people on board.

Earlier it was reported seven UK nationals were on the flight, but another two passengers were discovered to be dual nationals travelling on another passport.

Two more airlines have halted the use of its Boeing 737 Max 8.

An official at Royal Air Maroc said Morocco stopped the commercial use of its sole operational Boeing 737 Max 8, pending tests and examinations of the airplane after the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday.

Meanwhile, South African-based Comair – a British Airways franchise carrier – has grounded its Boeing 737 Max 8 while it consults with Boeing, other operators and technical experts.

China and Ethiopian Airlines had already grounded all aircraft of the same variant.

Tui Airways currently flies six of the type and Norwegian has 18 Max 8s in service.

A Tui spokesperson said: “We do not comment on any speculation and we are, as always, in close contact with the manufacturer.

“We have no indication that we can’t operate our 737 Max in a safe way like we do with all other planes in our network.”

Singapore is believed to be the first country to temporarily ban all variants of the Max family of aircraft from today.

SilkAir, which operates six Boeing 737 Max 8s, will be affected, as will China Southern Airlines, Garuda, Shandong Airlines and Thai Lion Air, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) said.

“During the temporary suspension, CAAS will gather more information and review the safety risk associated with the continued operation of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft into and out of Singapore,” the authority said.

“CAAS is closely monitoring the situation and is in close communication with the US Federal Aviation Administration and other aviation regulators, as well as Boeing.

“The suspension will be reviewed as relevant safety information becomes available.”

Vietnam’s aviation authority said it will not grant licences to operate Max 8 aircraft until the cause of the crash is determined.

Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is the latest to suspend operations of the Max 8.

Fiji Airways is the only airline flying the Max 8 into Australia.

The UK Civil Aviation Authority said yesterday that it was liasing with the European Aviation Safety Agency following the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crash.

The disaster came just five months after a Lion Air 737 Max 8 crashed in Indonesia.

Labour peer Lord [Denis] Tunnicliffe, a former pilot with BOAC and British Airways as well as chief executive of the aviation division of International Leisure Group, urged the government to ground the Boeing 737 Max 8 in UK immediately.

The shadow transport minister, who has flown earlier models of the Boeing 737, called on ministers to stop the aircraft flying until there was “a satisfactory explanation” of the Ethiopia crash, The Times reported.

The US Federal Aviation Administration, which as a team on the ground in Ethiopia helping with crash investigations, said it “continuously assesses and oversees the safety performance of US commercial aircraft. If we identify an issue that affects safety, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action”.

The authority told airlines it believes the Max 8 to be airworthy.

However, it confirmed that Boeing had been asked to submit “design changes” to the worldwide fleet of 737 Max aircraft by next month.

The FAA added: “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.”

A total of 59 airlines operate Boeing 737 Max 8s or Max 9s amounting to 387 aircraft, according to the FAA.

Boeing said: “For the past several months and in the aftermath of Lion Air flight 610, Boeing has been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 Max, designed to make an already safe aircraft even safer.

“This includes updates to the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) flight control law, pilot displays, operation manuals and crew training.

“The enhanced flight control law incorporates angle of attack (AOA) inputs, limits stabiliser trim commands in response to an erroneous angle of attack reading, and provides a limit to the stabilizer command in order to retain elevator authority.

“Boeing has been working closely with the Federal Aviation Administration on development, planning and certification of the software enhancement, and it will be deployed across the 737 Max fleet in the coming weeks. The update also incorporates feedback received from our customers.

“The FAA says it anticipates mandating this software enhancement with an Airworthiness Directive no later than April. We have worked with the FAA in development of this software enhancement.

“It is important to note that the FAA is not mandating any further action at this time, and the required actions continue to be appropriate.”

Nick Wyatt, travel and tourism expert at data and analysis firm GlobalData, said:“It’s crucial to highlight that there is currently no hard evidence that there is any issue with the 737 Max series, but concerns over the airworthiness of the model are growing.

“Boeing must act quickly to identify whether there is indeed a technical issue and if there is, fix it swiftly to avoid a potential rash of cancelled orders that will play into the hands of its closest competitors.”

Ethiopian Airlines said it had contacted the families of all the victims, who came from 30 nations.

At least 19 victims were affiliated with the United Nations, according to a UN official.

The cause of the crash is not yet known.

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