New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority will today talk to its counterpart in the United States about widening safety concerns over the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

A growing number of countries are banning the plane from their airspace and although only one airline flies it here, the CAA says it ''constantly reviewing'' all available information.

A spokesman this morning said it would talk to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today.

So far, the FAA hasn't taken any action on the new-model plane, saying it is safe to fly.


The FAA stance is running counter to other agencies around the world.

The other big global regulator, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, overnight suspended the Boeing 737 Max from flying into or over its airspace "to ensure the safety of passengers". New Zealand often takes it lead from the European agency and FAA on aircraft safety.

Australian, Singapore, Chinese and Indonesian agencies are among countries to also suspend flights after an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. It was the second crash of a Max 8 in five months.

Fiji Airways late last night said it had suspended flights with its Boeing 737 Max 8 planes to Australia after a ban there.

It has services between Nadi and Wellington and has not yet responded to questions today on whether it would review the operation here. Yesteday, it said it had full confidence in the plane and pilot training.

The CAA is satisfied with the steps Fiji Airways has taken over Boeing 737MAX 8 planes. Image / Supplied
The CAA is satisfied with the steps Fiji Airways has taken over Boeing 737MAX 8 planes. Image / Supplied

On Wall Street, Boeing shares fell more than 6 per cent overnight, an even bigger fall than the day before.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 crashes - which have been linked to new systems on the plane - have dealt a blow to the plane manufacturer and one analyst has said the scare could lead to a delay in orders to what had been one of its fastest-selling aircraft.

Yesterday, the NZ CAA said it was not planning any action but would continue to closely monitor the progress of the safety investigation of the Ethiopian Airlines accident to determine if there are facts or contributing factors which would cause it to review its position.


The authority would continue to liaise with other international authorities to ensure an "informed response was taken should the situation change".

Other airlines have voluntarily grounded the plane.

Yesterday, Brazil's Gol Airlines suspended the use of its Boeing Max 8 aircraft even though it had made nearly 3000 flights with "total security and efficiency" since starting service last June.

Mexican airline Aeromexico has suspended flights with its six Max 8 jets. The company says it trusts "fully" in the safety of its fleet but adds that the grounding has been ordered to ensure "the safety of its operations and the peace of mind of its customers".

The wreckage of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 after it crashed near Bishoftu, Ethiopia. Photo / AP
The wreckage of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 after it crashed near Bishoftu, Ethiopia. Photo / AP

Chinese and Indonesian aviation authorities have ordered the grounding of Max 8s and Cayman Airways and Ethiopian Airways have chosen to park their planes following the Ethiopian crash.

There are about 350 of the aircraft in operation and the crash was the second one in six months of a Max 8. The first was a Lion Air plane in Indonesia which raised the possibility of anti-stall software being erroneously activated by incorrect flight data.

China's Civil Aviation Administration said in a statement it would notify airlines as to when they could resume flying the jets after contacting Boeing and the US FAA to ensure flight safety.

"Given that two accidents both involved newly delivered Boeing 737-8 planes and happened during take-off phase, they have some degree of similarity," the administration has said.

Boeing issued new pilot guidelines after the Lion Air crash and Fiji Airways said like with all its aircraft, it had followed a comprehensive induction and training process for the new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

"Our Boeing 737 pilots and cabin crew receive extensive training, above the mandated level set for the Max 8 by the manufacturer. This includes ongoing simulator training into aircraft differences and identified scenarios. As such, we have full confidence in the airworthiness of our entire fleet," said a spokesman.

The airline uses Max aircraft on the Nadi-Wellington route.

North American airlines are the biggest operators of Max 8s, the latest model of the 737 which has been a reliable workhorse of many carriers for the past 50 years.

Mexican airline Aeromexico says it is suspending flights with its six Max 8 jets. Photo / Getty Images
Mexican airline Aeromexico says it is suspending flights with its six Max 8 jets. Photo / Getty Images

Air New Zealand used to have 737s but has switched to Airbus A320s and A321s for its domestic jet and short-haul international operations. Jetstar also uses A320s here and Qantas uses earlier model 737s across the Tasman.

Virgin Australia also uses earlier model 737s but has 40 Max planes on order.

An airline spokeswoman said it was closely watching the situation and 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. 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,'' she told the Herald yesterday.

Virgin Australia would continue to work with Boeing and the relevant authorities as more information becomes available.

The US FAA says it expects Boeing will soon complete improvements to an automated anti-stall system that is suspected of contributing to a Lion Air crash last October.

The FAA said that Boeing will also update training requirements and flight crew manuals related to the system. The system automatically points the plane's nose down if sensors indicate the plane could be in danger of losing lift, or stalling. Sensors on the plane operated by Indonesia's Lion Air gave out faulty readings on its last four flights, the Associated Press reports.

On the fatal October flight, pilots apparently struggled in vain to fight against the automated nose-down commands.

The FAA tried to discourage comparisons between the Lion Air crash and the Ethiopian Airlines crash. Both performed erratically shortly after takeoff, then went into nosedives.

Weather did not appear to be a factor in either one.

"External reports are drawing similarities between [the Ethiopian] accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident," the FAA said.

"However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions."