A total of 157 people from 35 countries, including two Polish nationals, were killed when the Ethiopian Airlines plane flying to Nairobi in Kenya crashed shortly after near shortly after take-off from Addis Ababa. The Boeing 737 MAX 8, a brand-new plane which was only registered in November, disappeared from the radar six minutes into the flight. Immediate comparisons have been drawn with Lion Air flight 610, which crashed just over four months ago, killing 189 people. Flight data showed erratic climbs and descents before the plane, also a 737 MAX 8, came down 12 minutes after take-off from Jakarta.

 

"In connection with the information appearing, the decisions of further aviation agencies worldwide and in Europe, LOT has taken the decision to temporarily suspend flights conducted with its Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, until further notice," LOT spokesman Adrian Kubicki stated. Kubicki said that the airline would use other aircraft to carry out flights normally operated by Boeing 737 Max 8s. The Polish national air carrier has five Boeing 737 Max 8 jets in its fleet, the IAR news agency reported.

 

Poland also closed its air space to the Boeing 737 Max 8, a move which was repeated in Germany, France and the United Kingdom.  Later, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said that it was suspending operations of all Boeing 737 Max aircraft across Europe. It added that it would also ban all commercial flights by third-country operators in its airspace. “EASA is continuously analysing the data as it becomes available. The accident investigation is currently ongoing, and it is too early to draw any conclusions as to the cause of the accident,” it said.

 

Boeing issued a statement saying that it had “full confidence in the safety of the 737 Max” and that safety was its “number one priority”. “We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets,” the aircraft manufacturer added.

 

The United States Federal Aviation Authority, which has a team in Ethiopia working on the investigation, is now one of the few nations which has not banned the aircraft from its airspace. In a statement the FAA said it was safe to fly the jet, issuing a “continued airworthiness notification” to reassure airlines. It said that if it found an issue that affected safety it would take “immediate and appropriate action”.

 

It may well be that the two accidents are a result of unrelated causes but, until more is known, and notwithstanding the assurances coming from the United States, better safe than sorry is the order of the day, in Poland and elsewhere.