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UPDATE: Boeing 737 Max aircraft grounded ‘until May at least’

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All Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft will remain on the tarmac at least until May after the Ethiopian Airlines crash which killed 157 on board on Sunday, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reported.

The aircraft will not fly until a software update can be tested and installed, the US regulator said yesterday. The crash was the second in less than six months after a Lion Air 737 Max 8 came down on 29 October killing 188.

Initial reports reportedly indicate that there are similarities with both 737 Max 8 crashes. The FAA said on Wednesday that a software fix for the 737 Max that Boeing had been working on since the Lion Air crash would take months to complete.

Meanwhile, investigators in France are looking into the crashed Ethiopian Airlines aircraft’s black boxes as they attempt to uncover what caused the Boeing 737 Max disaster.

The Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA) received the flight data and cockpit voice recorders yesterday.

Aviation regulators across the world continue to suspend use of Max aircraft and the latest were Russia, Japan and Tunisia yesterday. There were 371  737 Max aircraft in operation prior to the Ethiopian Airlines crash on Sunday and a further 5,000 are on order.

Meanwhile, the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) dispatched three investigators to France Thursday to assist with the downloading and analysis of flight recorders from the Boeing 737 MAX 8 that crashed Sunday near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The NTSB investigators have expertise in recorders, flight crew operations and human factors. The BEA will be downloading the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder in support of the Ethiopian investigation.

NTSB appointed an accredited representative to the investigation under the ICAO standards because the aircraft was manufactured in the United States. All investigative data regarding the investigation will be released by Ethiopian authorities.