British families of passengers killed in a Boeing 737 Max crash have called for the European authorities to keep the aircraft grounded.
They claimed it is “astonishing and deeply worrying” that the planes are returning to service.
A total of 346 passengers and crew died when two of the aircraft operated by Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashed in October 2018 and March 2019 respectively.
The planes were grounded around the world following the second crash, over concerns about mechanical and design problems.
But they returned to service in the US last month, and Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (Easa), told reporters earlier this week that “it will be cleared to fly again” in Europe later this month.
Relatives of the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines crash are angry that he made the comment before an official accident report is published or Easa releases a study of the aircraft’s safety.
Adrian Toole, father of Joanna Toole, from Exmouth, Devon, who died in the crash, said: “Easa’s conduct is both astonishing and deeply worrying.
“It is not in accordance with Easa’s previous assurances to us and it robs us and other interested parties of the opportunity to consider and make informed comment upon Easa’s recommendations and the logic of Easa’s decision making.
“We believe that commercial interests are being put before safety and we call on Easa not to take short cuts before allowing this aircraft to fly again in Europe.”
Mark Pegram, father of another victim, Sam Pegram, of Penwortham, Lancashire, said: “Why should we or anyone else not be sceptical that this aircraft is safe to fly?
“Sam, together with everyone else on those flights deserves to be honoured – and the best way to do that is to put safety first.
“That is why we’re calling on Easa to ensure the 737 Max remains grounded.”
Clive Garner, aviation specialist at law firm Irwin Mitchell, which is representing the families, said: “The introduction of the Boeing 737 Max was a disaster.
“Boeing made a number of catastrophic errors and critically important information was concealed from the aviation regulators causing the loss of 346 men, women and children.
“Those who lost loved ones rightly want to ensure that this aircraft is safe before it flies again.”