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Australia Bans Boeing 737 Max From Flying In Or Out Of The Country

Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority has suspended the operation of the plane model involved in the tragic Ethiopian Airlines crash,

"The Civil Aviation Safety Authority has temporarily suspended the operation of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to or from Australia," CASA said in a statement on Tuesday night.

"While no Australian airlines operate the Boeing 737 MAX, two foreign airlines fly these aircraft types to Australia."

"Singapore based SilkAir has already temporarily suspended operation of its 737 MAX aircraft, and Fiji Airways is the only other operator that will be affected by the temporary suspension."

CASA said it was working with Fiji Airlines, which has two of the 737 Max planes. Earlier on Tuesday, Singapore's Civil Aviation Authority had suspend Boeing 737 Max fleets in and out of the country, in the wake of the Ethiopian Airlines crash that claimed the lives of 157 people.

In October 2018, the same model was involved in another deadly crash when a Lion Air flight crashed off the coast of Indonesia, killing all 189 on board.

Image: AAP

“This is a temporary suspension while we wait for more information to review the safety risks of continued operations of the Boeing 737 MAX to and from Australia," said CASA's CEO and Director of Aviation Safety, Shane Carmody.

“CASA regrets any inconvenience to passengers but believes it is important to always put safety first.”

Virgin Australia, with a number of the 737 Max on order, said it would continue to work with safety authorities.

Aeromexico is the latest in a string of airlines to ground their 737 Max fleet. Image: Getty Images

"Safety is Virgin Australia's number one priority. We are closely watching the situation and monitoring any updates from Boeing and the investigating authorities," the airline said in a statement.

"There are currently no Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in our fleet. With our first aircraft delivery not due until November this year, we believe there is sufficient time to consider the outcome of the investigation and make an assessment."

"We will continue to work with Boeing, CASA, and other relevant authorities as more information becomes available."

READ MORE: Greek Man Escapes Death By Missing Crashed Ethiopian Airlines Flight

READ MORE: Doomed Lion Air Plane Had 'Air Speed' Problems On Prior Flight: Officials

Singapore's regional airline SilkAir, which operates six of the jets, will be affected, as well as China Southern Airlines, Garuda Indonesia, Shandong Airlines and Thai Lion Air, which all currently operate the model to Singapore.

The aviation authority said the decision was made "in light of two fatal accidents involving Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in less than five months".

Earlier on Tuesday Aeromexico, the flag carrier airline of Mexico, announced it was also temporarily suspending the operation of its six aircraft for the "safety" and "peace of mind" of customers.

The airline said planes would be grounded until "more thorough information on the investigation of the flight ET302 accident" was available.

"The airline reiterates that it has full confidence in the safety of the fleet and that during the last year, it has operated the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in safe, reliable, and efficient conditions," Aeromexico said in a statement.

READ MORE: Ethiopian Plane 'Followed By Fire' In Terrifying Final Moments

READ MORE: Deadly Ethiopian Airlines Crash: Pilot Wanted To Turn Back Before Plane 'Shattered'

It came just hours after the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) issued a "continued airworthiness notification" regarding the model.

"All data will be closely examined during this investigation, and the FAA will take appropriate action if the data indicates the need to do so," the statement said.

Meantime, Virgin Australia, which has 30 Boeing 737 Max on order, said it was closely monitoring any updates from Boeing and the investigating authorities.

"There are currently no Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in our fleet and it is too early for us to make comment on our order," the airline said in a statement.

"With our first aircraft delivery not due until November this year, we believe there is sufficient time to consider the outcome of the investigation and make an assessment."

On Tuesday, the FAA said early investigations are yet to find any links between the two accidents in Indonesia and Kenya.

Ethiopia Airlines Flight wreckage. Image: Getty Images

Hours after the deadly crash on Sunday, both China and Indonesia's aviation regulators ordered the suspension of their Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

Ethiopian Airlines also said it had grounded its 737 Max 8 fleet until further notice as an "extra safety precaution".

Cayman Airways grounded both of its new 737 Max 8 jets until more information was received, the airline said.

Fiji Airways said it had followed a comprehensive induction process for its new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft and it had full confidence in the airworthiness of its fleet.

Image: Ethiopian Airlines Twitter

“We continue to ensure that our maintenance and training programme for pilots and engineers meets the highest safety standards,” the airline said.

The 737 Max fleet has 387 registered aircraft worldwide operated by 59 airlines, including American Airlines (a codeshare partner of Qantas), Turkish Airlines (a codeshare partner of Air New Zealand), Qatar Airways, Air Canada, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines.

Recovery operations are still underway at the scene of the wreckage, with volunteers sifting through personal items including children's books, handbags, perfumes and clothing.

Distressing images from the ground showed body bags surrounding the wreckage as officials worked to recover the victims.

A Dr Seuss 'Oh, The Thinks You Can Think' book is seen in the wreckage. Image: Getty Images.

Witnesses have told Reuters they hear a strange rattling noise, and saw the plane trailing smoke and debris, as it swerved above a field of cows before the deadly plunge.

“Everyone says they have never heard that kind of sound from a plane and they are under a flight path,” one witness said.

Excavation Underway At Ethiopian Plane Crash Site

The pilot had requested permission to return, saying he was having problems -- but it was too late.

On Monday investigators found two black box recorders, which will help piece together the plane’s final minutes.

Contact the author: vgerova@networkten.com.au

Featured Image AAP. 

With Reuters/AAP.