China, Pak upgrading JF-17 with advanced systems

Pakistan and China plan to upgrade their jointly- produced JF-17 Thunder fighter jet to enhance "informatised warfare" its capability and weapons for an effectively defence.

Yang Wei, a Chinese legislator and chief designer of the China-Pakistan co-developed fighter jet was reported to have said that "the development and production of the JF-17 Block 3 are underway."

According to a report of China Aviation News. Wei Dongxu, a Beijing-based military analyst told Global Times that the JF-17 Block 3 is likely to be fitted with an active electronically scanned array radar, which can gather more information in combat, enabling the fighter jet to engage from a farther range and attack multiple targets at the same time. A helmet-mounted display and sight system could also allow pilots to aim whatever he sees.
Pakistan, the main user of the JF-17, could further share information between the fighter and other platforms taking advantage of the whole combat system to effectively defend against strong opponents, Wei said.

With the new upgrade, the JF-17 Block 3 will match an improved version of the F-16 fighter jet, he added. JF-17, or the FC-1, is a single-engine multi-role light fighter jet jointly developed by China and Pakistan for export.

When asked about which countries have inquired about the JF-17 Block 3, Yang said "A lot of countries have come to buy. You sign [a contract for the JF-17], you benefit."

The JF-17 is often described by its manufacturer and military observers as an advanced but also cost-effective fighter. It is currently contending with India's Tejas and South Korea's FA-50 in Malaysia's new fighter jet purchase plan, with the JF-17 being the most competitive option, Wei said.

A JF-17 fighter jet attached to the Pakistan Air Force flies towards the designated airspace during an air-to-ground offensive operation drill conducted by two Chinese JH-7 fighter bombers and two Pakistani JF-17 fighter jets on Sept. 20, 2017, which is part of the "Shaheen VI " joint training exercise launched by the air forces of China and Pakistan. Myanmar and Nigeria have reportedly purchased the Chinese-Pakistani warplane.



Beijing reaffirms earlier stance: China blocks India at UNSC

NEW YORK: China blocked on Wednesday India's bid to designate Jaish-e-Mohammed chief Masood Azhar as a global terrorist in the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) 1267 list.

China on Wednesday hinted that it may once again block the move, saying only "the solution that is acceptable to all sides" is conducive to resolve the issue.

China put a technical hold on a proposal in the UN Security Council to ban Masood Azhar just before the close of the deadline.
The request was moved by Britain, France and the United States, while Germany also joined as co-sponsor of the move on Wednesday. China has blocked the move by India and others states three times in the past.

In a note sent to the Council, China said it needed more time to examine the sanctions request targeting Masood Azhar, diplomats said. In case of implementation, a UNSC designation would have subject Masood Azhar to an assets freeze, travel ban and arms embargo.

Earlier in the day, China had signalled that it was not yet prepared to step aside and allow the UNSC to list terror the JeM founder as an international terrorist. In response to a question on China’s stance on banning Masood Azhar at the 1267 committee of the UNSC, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said Beijing wanted a closure of the issue, based on consensus achieved through dialogue.

“I want to say that China always adopts a responsible attitude, engage in consultations with various parties and properly deal with this issue,” Lu said. \“The discussions, I want to say must follow the rules and procedures of the relevant bodies and only the solution that is acceptable to all sides is conducive for resolving the issue,” he added.

Lu said the Chinese position on Masood Azhar was delinked from the immediacy of the Wednesday’s vote at the 1267 committee of the UNSC. “First, I want to clarify that I don't recall saying anything about the deadline about the UNSC committee and other UN subsidiary bodies,” he stated.

India has expressed disappointment in the outcome and said it will continue to pursue “all possible avenues to ensure terrorist leaders are brought to justice”. “We are disappointed by this outcome. We will continue to pursue all available avenues to ensure that terrorist leaders who are involved in heinous attacks on our citizens are brought to justice,” said the Indian Ministry of External Affairs. The Indian opposition, particularly the Congress, took a dig at Prime Minister Narendra Modi for failing at diplomatic levels. "A sad day in the global fight against terrorism. China blocking Masood Azhar's designation as global terrorist reaffirms Chinese position of being an inseparable ally of Pakistan. Sadly, Modiji's foreign policy has been a series of diplomatic disasters," Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala said.



Khalistan Movement unnerves Indian govt

ISLAMABAD: The Khalistan Movement and Sikh’s struggle for separate homeland has unnerved the Indian government badly. New Delhi official sources claimed that India will take up the question of Sikh’s conduct in availing Kartarpur Corridor and promoting case of their separate homeland when the two countries will enter into dialogue today (Thursday) at Attari.

The sources hinted that New Delhi will ask Pakistan to insulate Sikh pilgrims visiting the Gurdwara Kartarpur Sahib through the Kartarpur Corridor from Khalistan separatist propaganda. Pakistan has already discarded the impression and it is expected that Pakistan’s delegation leader for Attari talks Dr. Muhammad Fasial Chaudhary wouldn’t entertain Indian position and impress upon his Indian interlocutors to refrain from politicking the occasion since Pakistan doesn’t want to harm the reverence of the event.

According to Indian media reports India will raise the issue during the first meeting with Pakistan to finalise the modalities for the Kartarpur Corridor on Thursday. The meeting will take place on the Indian side of the Attari-Wagah border, they said. Last year in November, India had lodged a strong protest with Pakistan over the alleged harassment of Indian High Commission officials in Islamabad and the denial of access to Indian Sikh pilgrims visiting the country.

India had also expressed “grave concern” over reports of attempts during the pilgrims’ visit to “incite” communal disharmony and “promote secessionist tendencies” with an aim to undermine India’s sovereignty and territorial integrity.

There were reports that pro-Khalistan banners were shown to the Indian pilgrims while they were on their way to the two Sikh shrines. In the meanwhile sources told The News that Sikhs came across the world had availed the occasion to highlight their just struggle



Pak-India talks on Kartarpur Corridor underway

AMRITSAR: Talks between India and Pakistan began on Thursday to discuss and finalize the modalities for the Kartarpur Corridor.
Dr Muhammad Faisal, DG South Asia, is leading the Pakistani side while Indian delegation is headed by Joint Secretary SCL Das from the Home Ministry.
What message does India want to send from Attari talks?
Talking to media, prior to the departure at Wagah Border, Dr Faisal said Kartarpur initiative is not only beneficial to Sikh community but will also help bring peace between the two nations.
He also stated that we are taking a positive message with this step for the talks.
This corridor plan includes a bridge over Ravi river and four and a half kilometer road as well.
According to the sources, 50 percent construction work of bridge and road is completed and the plan is expected to be completed before the 550th anniversary of Baba Guru Nanak in November.



Will Brexit be delayed? The hows and the whys

Brussels: European officials fully expect British Prime Minister Theresa May´s government to ask for a delay to Brexit, and admit they will probably reluctantly agree to one.

British MPs will vote Thursday on a government plan to hold a third ballot on May´s deal and request a delayed departure, whatever the result.
But how would such a postponement be triggered and for how long could London put off severing its four-decade-old ties with the European Union?

How would it work?
Under current British and EU legislation, the United Kingdom will leave the European Union at 2300 GMT on March 29, on the expiry of the so-called "Article 50" process.

This two-year regime is provided for by the European Treaty to allow departing members time to negotiate the terms of their divorce -- terms that British MPs now reject.

Despite voting against the withdrawal agreement that May herself approved at a summit on November 25, British lawmakers say they don´t want a "no deal" Brexit.
If they ask for a Brexit delay then the other 27 EU members, if they unanimously agree, could accord an extension to Article 50.
The British government on Wednesday proposed holding another vote on the Brexit deal before a European summit in Brussels on March 21-22.
If the deal is approved by then, Britain would seek a short extension to before the end of June.

However if the deal is not approved, the government proposals say a longer delay may be required.

Will Europe agree?
Approval of any British request would not be automatic -- even though EU and member state leaders insist they too want to avoid the political and economic disruption of a "no-deal" Brexit.

If, and only if, May can explain how she would use the extension to secure a negotiated deal and demonstrates that it can win parliamentary backing, the members will likely agree.

"London´s chaos affects the whole European decision-making process," complained Manfred Weber, head of the conservative bloc in the European Parliament, on Wednesday.

"We don´t see any chance of prolongation without clarification," he said, noting that May´s request would need unanimous assent at next week´s European Council summit.

"There´ll be no extension without substance behind it. Not a single day of prolongation without clarification," he warned.
How long would it last?

This is likely to be the most difficult question.
Europe does not want to be trapped in an endless cycle of short-term renewals, and officials have said there will be at most one extension, with a definite end date.

AFP understands that a senior EU official has suggested in talks with EU ambassadors this week that Britain would need at least 12 months to resolve the crisis.

And veteran British lawmaker Kenneth Clarke told the BBC on Wednesday that "we´ve got to have a good long delay whilst parliament and the government decide what actually we´re trying to negotiate for our longer-term arrangements".

But that would create another problem: European Union voters go to the polls from May 23 to elect a new parliament and, if still a member, Britain would legally have to take part.

For this reason, officials suggest it would be easier to agree an extension that ends either before polling day or at least before the new parliament sits at the start of July.

Could Britain even organise a vote?
This would be a technical challenge for the European Union, which has already assigned Britain´s 73 seats in Strasbourg to other countries´ delegations and campaigning is underway.

It would also be politically disruptive. Europe fears a British vote would return a large body of Brexit supporting MEPs determined to thwart Brussels at every turn.

As leading eurosceptic Nigel Farage declared Wednesday, taunting his colleagues in the assembly: "You don´t want me to come back here.
"There is a simple solution and that is that the British request to extend is vetoed at that European summit," he said, referring to next week´s gathering.

Nevertheless, the UK Electoral Commission told AFP that the EU polls could -- in extremis -- be organised.
"The prime minister has been clear that these elections will not take place, however legislation requiring these elections to go ahead has not yet been repealed," a spokesman said.

"As part of our contingency planning, we are making certain preparations that will enable us to swiftly take the necessary action should circumstances change and these elections need to be held."



Pak-India airspace closure: National institutions suffer Rs2.55 bn loss

KARACHI: Pakistan and India have closed their airspace for each other for the last two weeks after rise in tension between the two countries due to which the national institutions of Pakistan have suffered losses of Rs2.55 billion.

The airlines and civil aviation authorities of both thecountries are enduring massive losses. The flights between Europe to Far-East are not only facing massive financial losses, but the flight duration has also increased, while the airlines have also increased their ticket prices.

The schedule of the airlines flying on these routes has also been affected. The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) has suffered loss of Rs1.05 billion due to closure of certain routes for the airline, while the Civil Aviation Authority of Pakistan has incurred a loss of around Rs1.5 billion so far due to prevailing tension.

Only a few large airports are still open, while the airlines are now using long routes due to which the air travel duration has increased, which has resulted into increase in air fares. Only the PIA is suffering a loss of over 70 million on daily basis in the head of fuel charges.



California suspends death penalty

LOS ANGELES: Governor Gavin Newsom imposed a moratorium on carrying out the death penalty in California on Wednesday, granting a reprieve to 737 condemned inmates -- the largest death row population in the United States.

"The death penalty has been an abject failure. It discriminates based on the color of your skin or how much money you make," he told a news conference. "It´s ineffective, irreversible, and immoral.

"It goes against the very values that we stand for -- which is why California is putting a stop to this failed system."

Newsom, a Democrat who took office in January, has been a staunch opponent of the death penalty, last carried out in California in 2006.
In a tweet, President Donald Trump denounced the decision as a slap in the face for victims and their families.

"Defying voters, the Governor of California will halt all death penalty executions of 737 stone cold killers," he said. "Friends and families of the always forgotten VICTIMS are not thrilled, and neither am I!"

Newsom said that as he spoke, the execution chamber at California´s San Quentin State Prison was being dismantled and stressed that his order -- which stands as long as he is governor -- does not mean that any inmates already on death row would be released.

"Those people are not going to be let out by this act, they will be held to account," he said. "We don´t want to join Saudi Arabia... North Korea. We don´t want to be part of what is happening in Iran, in Iraq, China, Somalia, Pakistan and Egypt.

"Those are the countries -- those last five -- that join the US in executing more of their citizens than any other nations on Planet Earth."
'Time for California'

He said he hoped California and the United States as a whole would ultimately end the death penalty for good.
"Three out of four nations in the world do better, they have abolished the death penalty," he said. "It´s time for California to join those ranks."
Newsom, who appeared emotional during the news conference, said he had met relatives of victims in recent days and acknowledged they were divided on the issue.

"I met someone yesterday who said this is about eradicating evil, and you have a responsibility to eradicate evil by executing those on death row," he said.

"I met a mother who said... ´you have no right to take another life in the name of my daughter who was murdered.´"

A quarter of all those on death row in the United States are in California, according to the governor´s office. Twenty-five people on California´s death row have exhausted all of their appeals.

Among the most notorious inmates is Lonnie David Franklin Jr, also known as the "Grim Sleeper," who was sentenced to death for 10 murders between 1985 and 2007.

Also on death row is Scott Peterson, who murdered his pregnant wife Laci Peterson and their unborn child in 2002. He was sentenced to death by lethal injection in 2005.

Human Rights Watch said that with the governor´s decision, California continues a trend in the United States away from putting people to death.
The state joins Colorado, Oregon, and Pennsylvania, which have similar bans, and 20 states that have abolished the death penalty, it said.
"Governor Newsom has demonstrated great courage and leadership in ending the cruel, costly, and unfair practice of executing prisoners," said Alison Parker, US managing director at Human Rights Watch.

"Californians should be proud their state has taken a stand to end state-sanctioned killing and uphold the human rights of all people."
The American Civil Liberties Union also welcomed the decision saying it was "a watershed moment in the fight for racial equity and equal justice for all."
Although studies show that an increasing number of Californians favor a sentence of life without parole to the death penalty in most cases, voters in 2012 and 2016 rejected measures to repeal the death penalty.



Countries and carriers around the globe ground the 737 Max 8

A growing number of airlines around the world have grounded their Boeing 737 Max 8 jets following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane that killed 157 people on Sunday, five months after a similar Indonesian Lion Air jet plunged into the ocean, killing 189. Some airlines and countries that have grounded the aircraft so far:

Ethiopia
A spokesman for Ethiopian Airlines says it grounded its remaining four Max 8 jets as an "extra safety precaution" while it investigates Sunday's deadly crash. The airline is awaiting the delivery of 25 more Max 8 jets.
China
China has 96 Max 8 jets in service, belonging to carriers such as Air China, China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines. The civil aviation authority directed the planes to be grounded indefinitely on Monday. It said the order was "taken in line with the management principle of zero tolerance for security risks." There were eight Chinese citizens on the Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed shortly after taking off on Sunday. The authority said it will consult the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing before deciding when to lift the ban.
Europe
The European Aviation Safety Agency has issued a directive grounding all Boeing 737-8 "MAX" and 737-9 model aircraft following two recent accidents.
EASA said in its emergency airworthiness directive Tuesday that "at this early stage" of the most recent investigation, "it cannot be excluded that similar causes may have contributed to both events."
"Based on all available information, EASA considers that further actions may be necessary to ensure the continued airworthiness of the two affected models."
It says companies may make one noncommercial flight to return their planes to a location where they can be inspected. The grounding applies to all European Union airspace.
Brazil
Brazil's Gol Airlines has suspended the use of seven Max 8 jets. The airline said it is following the investigation closely and hopes to return the aircraft to use as soon as possible. Gol said it has made nearly 3,000 flights with the Max 8, which went into service last June, with "total security and efficiency."
Singapore
Singapore has temporarily banned Max 8 jets — and other models in the Max range — from entering and leaving the country. The civil aviation authority said it was "closely monitoring the situation" and the ban will be "reviewed as relevant safety information becomes available." SilkAir, a regional carrier owned by Singapore Airlines, has six Max 8 jets. It said the ban "will have an impact on some of the airline's flight schedules."
UAE
The UAE's General Civil Aviation Authority said its ban on the aircraft in its airspace was "a precautionary measure." The 737 MAX is the workhorse of the Dubai government-owned budget carrier FlyDubai. It operates 11 Boeing 737 MAX 8 and 2 MAX 9 jetliners. Its total fleet is around 60 aircraft, including other models of the 737.
Canada
Canadian charter airline Sunwing is suspending use of its four Boeing 737 Max 8 planes.
Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau said he has no plans to ground Canada's fleet of 737 Max aircraft, but that "all options are on the table."
Vietnam
Vietnam is banning Boeing 737 Max planes from flying into its airspace.
Dinh Viet Thang, director of Vietnam's civil aviation authority, said Wednesday that airlines flying those models of planes will have to change the aircraft for safety purposes. The ban lasts until further notice.
None of Vietnam's four airlines uses the Max model planes in their fleets, but Korea's Eastar Jet, Thai Lion Air and Malaysia's Malindor Air fly those planes to Vietnamese destinations.
India
India says it is immediately grounding all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes after Sunday's deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash. A statement late Tuesday says the planes "will be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations."
The statement does not say how many planes are affected.
Australia
Australia has announced a temporary ban on flights by Boeing 737 Max aircraft, although none of its airlines currently operate them. The Civil Aviation Safety Authority said Tuesday that the ban will affect two foreign airlines — SilkAir and Fiji Airways — that use them for flights to Australia. The authority said Singapore's SilkAir has already grounded its 737 Max jets, and that it is working with regulators there and in Fiji to minimize disruptions. It said that Fiji Airways has two 737 Max 8 jets in its fleet. Fiji Airways and Fiji's Civil Aviation Authority said they would ground the fleet until more information is known about the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines accident.
Cayman Islands
Cayman Airways, a Caribbean carrier, said it stopped using its two Max 8 jets starting Monday. President and CEO Fabian Whorms said the move will cause changes to flight schedules. Cayman is the flag carrier of Cayman Islands, a British overseas territory.
Indonesia
Indonesia said it would temporarily ground Max 8 jets to inspect their airworthiness. Director General of Air Transportation Polana B. Pramesti said the move was made to ensure flight safety. A Lion Air model of the same plane crashed in Indonesia in October. Indonesian airlines operate 11 Max 8 jets. Lion Air, which owns 10 of them, said it will try to minimize the impact of the decision on operations. The other Max 8 jet belongs to national carrier Garuda.
Malaysia
The Civil Aviation Authority said no Malaysian carriers operate the Max 8, but that foreign airlines are banned from flying the plane in Malaysia, and from transiting in the country, until further notice.
Mexico
Mexican airline Aeromexico has suspended flights of its six Max 8 jets. Aeromexico said it "fully" trusts the safety of its fleet but ordered the grounding to ensure "the safety of its operations and the peace of mind of its customers." It said other planes will take over the routes usually flown by the Max 8.
Oman
Oman and the United Arab Emirates barred flights by Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft. Oman's Public Authority for Civil Aviation made the sultanate's announcement, without elaborating on its reasoning. State-owned Oman Air operates five Max 8 aircraft and said it was rescheduling other planes for its flights.
South Africa
Comair, the operator of British Airways and Kulula flights in South Africa, says it has grounded its Boeing 737 Max 8 while it consults with Boeing, other operators and technical experts.
A statement does not say how many planes are affected. It says the decision was made without intervention from regulatory authorities.
South Korea
South Korean airline Eastar Jet said it would suspend operations of its two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes and replaced them with Boeing 737-800 planes starting Wednesday on routes to Japan and Thailand. The airline says it hasn't found any problems, but is voluntarily grounding the planes in response to customer concerns.
Turkey
In a statement on Twitter Tuesday, Turkish Airlines CEO Bilal Eksi said all Boeing 737 Max flights are suspended until the "uncertainty affecting safety is cleared." He added that passenger safety was the company's priority.
Iceland
Icelandair Group says it has temporarily suspended operations of its three Boeing 737 Max aircraft until further notice.
President and CEO Bogi Nels Bogason said Tuesday that the company will follow developments closely and work with local, European and U.S. authorities on any steps that need to be taken.
He said the temporary suspension won't impact the company's operations, as it only affects three aircraft out of a fleet of 33.
New Zealand
New Zealand and Fiji have suspended Boeing 737 Max 8 flights in and out of the two countries following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jetliner.
The decision only affects one operator, Fiji Airways. No New Zealand airlines use the Max 8 planes.

U.S. will not ground Boeing 737 MAX planes after Ethiopia crash
The U.S. aviation regulator said on Tuesday it would not ground Boeing Co 737 MAX planes after a crash in Ethiopia which killed 157 people, bucking a trend of countries around the world that have suspended the aircraft's operations.

The Federal Aviation Administration's acting administrator Dan Elwell said a review by the body "shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft."

The European Union's aviation safety regulator on Tuesday suspended all flights in the bloc by the 737 MAX and a U.S. Senator who chairs a panel overseeing aviation suggested the United States take similar action following Sunday's fatal crash, the second since October involving that type of plane.

But Elwell said no foreign civil aviation authorities have provided data that would warrant action. If any safety issues are identified during an ongoing urgent review of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, the FAA will "take immediate and appropriate action," he said.

Britain, Germany and France joined a wave of suspensions of the aircraft in the wake of the crash, and was swiftly followed by a similar decision by India, piling pressure on the United States to follow suit.

Boeing, the world's biggest planemaker, which has seen billions of dollars wiped off its market value since the crash, said it understood the countries' actions but retained "full confidence" in the 737 MAX and had safety as its priority.

It also said the FAA had not demanded any further action related to 737 MAX operations.
The three U.S. airlines using the 737 MAX - Southwest Airlines Co, American Airlines Group Inc and United Airlines - stood by the aircraft, although many potential passengers took to social media to express concerns, asking if they could change flights or cancel.

United Airlines' union pilots said that they had found no mechanical deficiencies in the plane in more than 23,000 flying hours, a strong statement of support for the plane and United's intentions to keep the jet flying.

The cause of Sunday's crash, which followed another disaster with a 737 MAX five months ago in Indonesia that killed 189 people, remains unknown. On Monday, the FAA released details of a series of design changes and training requirements mandated from Boeing on the MAX fleet after the Indonesia crash.

There is no evidence yet whether the two crashes are linked. Plane experts say it is too early to speculate on the reason for the crash. Most are caused by a unique chain of human and technical factors.

In an unusual move, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said it was suspending all flights in the bloc of Boeing's 737 MAX 8 and 9 jets.
"Based on all available information, EASA considers that further actions may be necessary to ensure the continued airworthiness of the two affected models," it said in a statement.

However, it shied away from the even rarer step of pulling the safety certification for the plane itself, focusing instead on the softer process of restricting its use by airlines. The move leaves some leeway for the U.S. FAA to decide its own approach.

Flight ET 302 came down in a field soon after takeoff from Addis Ababa, creating a fireball in a crater. It may take weeks or months to identify all the victims, who include a prize-winning author, a soccer official and a team of humanitarian workers.

Boeing shares fell 6.1 percent on Tuesday bringing losses to 11.15 percent since the crash, the steepest two-day loss for the stock since July 2009. The drop has lopped $26.65 billion off Boeing's market value.

Senate hearing
Of the top 10 countries by air passenger travel, all but the United States and Japan have halted flights of the 737 MAX. China, Indonesia, Singapore, Australia, Malaysia and others have temporarily suspended the 737 MAX.

U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican who chairs the Senate subcommittee on aviation and space, said on Tuesday it would be "prudent" for the United States "to temporarily ground 737 Max aircraft until the FAA confirms the safety of these aircraft and their passengers."

Cruz said he intends to convene a hearing to investigate the crashes.
Two other senators, Republican Mitt Romney and Democrat Elizabeth Warren, called on the FAA to temporarily ground the 737 MAX.

U.S. President Donald Trump also fretted over modern airplane design.

"Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT," Trump tweeted, lamenting that product developers always sought to go an unnecessary step further when "old and simpler" was superior.

"I don't know about you, but I don't want Albert Einstein to be my pilot. I want great flying professionals that are allowed to easily and quickly take control of a plane!" he added.

He did not refer to Boeing or recent accidents, but his comments echoed an automation debate that partially lies at the center of a probe into October's Lion Air crash in Indonesia. Investigators are examining the role of a software system designed to push the plane down, alongside airline training and repair standards.

Boeing says it plans to update the software in coming weeks.
Trump spoke to Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg on Tuesday and received assurances that the aircraft was safe, two people briefed on the call said.
Victims from 30 nations

Given problems of identification at the charred disaster site, Ethiopian Airlines said it would take at least five days to start handing remains to families.
The victims came from more than 30 different nations, and included nearly two dozen U.N. staff.

"We are Muslim and have to bury our deceased immediately," Noordin Mohamed, a 27-year-old Kenyan businessman whose brother and mother died, told Reuters.

"Losing a brother and mother in the same day and not having their bodies to bury is very painful," he said in the Kenyan capital Nairobi where the plane had been due.

If the black box recordings found at the Ethiopian crash site are undamaged, the cause of the crash could be identified quickly, although it typically takes a year for a full probe.

The new variant of the 737, the world's most-sold modern passenger aircraft, is viewed as the likely workhorse for global airlines for decades and 4,661 more are on order.

Over 40 percent of the MAX fleet has been grounded, Flightglobal said, though many airlines still use older jets.
Former FAA accident investigator Mike Daniel said the decision by regulators to ground the planes was premature and that they were doing it "without any factual information yet as a result of the investigation."



Canada sees no reason to ground Boeing 737 MAX 8, ready to act if need be

Canada has no plans to ground Boeing Co 737 MAX 8 aircraft but is ready to "act immediately" to suspend flights if new information emerges indicating there is a problem, Transport Minister Marc Garneau said on Tuesday.

His comments come as a growing number of nations suspended operations of the plane after a crash in Ethiopia that killed 157 people, just five months after a deadly crash in Indonesia involving the same model.

Garneau said Canada had not received any new information concerning the Ethiopian crash that would prompt it to ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes but that all options were on the table.

"If we received information or explanations that indicate that there's a problem ... certainly we'll act immediately," he told reporters in Montreal.
"I asked my team to evaluate all available options, which includes possibly temporarily grounding some planes - the MAX 8 planes - so we're ready to do so, if we decide to do so."

Garneau said later on Twitter he had canceled all his meetings and public events for Tuesday so he could consult with a panel of civil aviation experts. Canada's two main airlines - Air Canada and WestJet Airlines Ltd - operate a total of 37 737 MAX 8 planes.

Garneau is due to hold a news conference at 11 a.m. (1500 GMT) on Wednesday in Ottawa to discuss the matter, but there are no immediate plans to order carriers to stop operating the aircraft, a government source said later on Tuesday.

The source - who requested anonymity given the sensitivity of the situation - said Canadian authorities were working very closely with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which said on Tuesday it would not ground the plane.

Ties between Boeing and Trump run deep
When Donald Trump spoke with Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg on Tuesday to get assurances about the safety of the 737 MAX plane that crashed in Ethiopia, he wasn't talking to a stranger.

The U.S. president, who owned his own airline, Trump Shuttle, from 1989 to 1992, is an aviation enthusiast. Before becoming president he had his own private jet and since his inauguration, he has taken visible delight in the presidential aircraft, Air Force One.

His aviation connections have expanded during his presidency to include relationships with powerful executives in the defense industry, including Muilenburg, with whom he has talked several times.

Muilenburg told Trump in Tuesday's morning call that the aircraft was safe and did not need to be grounded, two people briefed on the conversation said.
Later in the day, aviation officials repeated that U.S. flights of the plane would continue.

That leaves the United States as an outlier in its response to Sunday's crash of a Boeing 737 MAX that killed 157 people. The European Union's aviation safety regulator on Tuesday suspended all flights by the plane in the bloc; of the top 10 countries by air passenger travel, all but the United States and Japan have halted flights.

U.S. officials, including a bipartisan group of five Senators, are asking why the FAA is not doing the same. U.S. Senator Ted Cruz, a Republican who chairs the Senate subcommittee on aviation and space, said he intends to convene a hearing to investigate.

The Ethiopian crash follows one of a 737 MAX five months ago in Indonesia that killed 189 people. There is no evidence yet that the two disasters are linked. Plane experts say it is too early to speculate on the cause of the crash.

Deep ties
Trump personally negotiated with Muilenburg to try to lower the cost of a future version of Air Force One after complaining the price tag was too high.
"He cares about business and he creates open communication lines, and we will have differences from time to time, we may not agree on every topic,” Muilenburg said in a radio interview last month.

But while the relationship hasn't all been cozy, ties between Boeing and the Trump administration run deep.

Trump has used Boeing products and sites as a backdrop for major announcements over the course of his presidency. In March 2018 he touted the impact of his tax overhaul bill as he visited a plant in St. Louis.

Before joining the Pentagon, acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan, who is expected to be named to the post, worked for 31 years at Boeing, where he was general manager for the 787 Dreamliner passenger jet.

Boeing has nominated Nikki Haley, Trump's former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations who continues to be a close ally, to join its board of directors at the company's annual shareholders meeting on April 29.

Trump has also put pressure on U.S. allies to buy products from Boeing, the country's second largest defense contractor which received $104 billion in unclassified defense contracts between 2014 and 2018.

U.S. officials and defense industry sources said that weeks after Trump pressed the Emir of Kuwait in 2018 over a long-delayed deal for Boeing's F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets, Kuwait said it would proceed with the order.

Boeing is also one of the largest U.S. exporters to China, and Muilenburg told an aviation summit in Washington that purchases of its U.S.-made aircraft by China could be part of a sweeping trade deal currently being negotiated. Aircraft exports have thus far been spared from retaliatory Chinese tariffs.