Europe’s aviation safety regulator, EASA, announced Tuesday the suspension of all Boeing 737 Max operations in Europe.
The pressure on the U.S. regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), to follow suit will now be immense. There are now few places in the world flying the MAX except the U.S. and Canada.
On Monday the FAA said that while it awaits solid information on the cause of the fatal crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302 it would not take any action. Boeing made a similar statement and on Tuesday reiterated that stance, saying that “we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators.”
But EASA, with a worldwide aviation influence similar to the FAA, on Tuesday published an Airworthiness Directive “as a precautionary measure … suspending all flight operations of all Boeing Model 737-8 MAX and 737-9 MAX aeroplanes in Europe.”
In addition, EASA published a safety directive, effective as of noon Pacific Time, banning all airlines from flying the MAX in European airspace.
The FAA and EASA typically follow each other’s lead. The FAA certifies all Boeing aircraft and passes on the data to EASA, which then certifies them in Europe. EASA similarly takes the lead on certifying all Airbus aircraft and the FAA then follows suit.
If the FAA issues an Airworthiness Directive on a Boeing jet, EASA will quickly mirror it with its own. And vice versa if EASA issues an Airworthiness Directive on an Airbus jet.
It’s unusual for EASA to take the step of grounding the Boeing 737 MAX just a day after the FAA declined to do so. That is tantamount to Europe’s regulator saying to its U.S equivalent, “We cannot follow your judgment on this.”
The pressure is now intense on both the FAA and Boeing to follow the rest of the world.
Boeing announced today its February deliveries, which included 26 deliveries of the 737 MAX.
Turkish Airlines took five of the planes last month, more than any other carrier. But Tuesday morning, Turkish announced that it has stopped all operations of its fleet of a dozen MAXs “until further notice.”
Approaching noon PST on Tuesday, flight tracking website Flightaware showed 93 MAX 8s airborne across the globe. Of those, 68 were flying in the U.S. or Canada.
Boeing shares fells 6.5 percent Tuesday, closing at $375.41. That left the stock down about 11 percent from Friday’s close.