The National Civil Aviation Administration (ANAC) banned all Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 operations in Argentina’s airspace, effective immediately, following recent crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that have called the aircraft’s safety into questions.
In the resolution, which will be published in the Official Gazette, ANAC states that "the public has questioned operations of the Boeing 737-8 Max and 737-9 Max aircraft after recent incidents."
ANAC announced the measure six days after an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed and killed all 157 passengers onboard. Just five months ago, 189 people were killed when a Lion Air 737 flight crashed in Indonesia.
Last Monday, national airline Aerolíneas Argentinas announced temporary suspensions for domestic and international flights operating with Boeing 737s. Aerolíneas Argentina decided to suspend flights “after a joint analysis with ANAC, the regulatory authority of the country’s air sector,” the company said in a statement.
“For Aerolíneas Argentinas, the most important value is safety,” the company, whose fleet of 82 aircrafts includes five B737 MAX 8 airplanes, explained. “Since the airline becan operating the Boeing 737 MAX 8 in November of 2017, the company made 7500 flights with total safety and efficiency.”
An analysis of the “black boxes” of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 that crashed east of Addis Ababa in Ethiopia last week revealed “clear similarities” with the black box of Lion Air’s 737 that crashed in Indonesia in October, Ethiopian Minister of Transport Dagmawit Moges said Sunday. "In the investigation into the parameter recorder (FDR - Flight data recorder), clear similarities were noted between Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 and Lion Air flight 610,” Moges explained.
Since the accident, several experts have noted "similarities" between the accidents. Both aircrafts had erratic ascents and descents and fluctuating flight speeds before crashing shortly after takeoff. Lion Air’s investigation indicated a malfunction in the plane's flight stabilisation system (or Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), which should keep the aircraft on a smooth course.
This stabilisation system was introduced in Boeing's 737 MAX 8 because the plane’s heavier, fuel-efficient engines changed the aerodynamic qualities of the aircraft and could cause the nose of the plane to rise in certain conditions. In 2019, Boeing aimed to increase the production rate of the 737 to go from 52 to 57 copies per month.
After the first 737 MAX crash in Indonesia in October of 2018, the aeronautical community was questioned about the lack of information of the company was providing to pilots about the new stabilisation system. Questions were also raised about a possible failure of the plane’s speed meters, and about the relatively short training period for pilots learning to use the new system.