World

China grounds Boeing jets following Ethiopia plane crash

Agency | March 11, 2019 01:34 PM

BEIJING:  The Chinese government on Monday grounded all Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets, a day after an Ethiopian Airlines plane of the same model crashed shortly after take-off, killing all 157 people onboard.

On Sunday, Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302, on its way to the Kenyan capital Nairobi from Addis Ababa, crashed six minutes after take-off. It ploughed into a field near Tulu Fara village outside the town of Bishoftu, some 60 km southeast of the Ethiopian capital, the Guardian reported.

The cause of the crash is under probe.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) issued a notice on Monday morning ordering domestic airlines to suspend the commercial operations of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft before 6 p.m.

The CAAC said it made the decision "in view of the fact that the two air crashes were newly delivered Boeing 737-8 aircraft" and had "certain similarities".

The regulator said the grounding of the planes was "in line with our principle of zero tolerance for safety hazards and strict control of safety risks".

The CAAC said it would be contacting US aviation authorities and Boeing before restoring flights of the aircraft.

China's move comes after Ethiopian Airlines and Cayman Islands carriers announced similar decisions, the Guardian reported.

"Following the tragic accident of ET 302 ... Ethiopian Airlines has decided to ground all B-737-8 MAX fleet effective yesterday, March 10, until further notice," Ethiopian Airlines said in a tweet on Monday.

Cayman Airways, which also flies the Boeing 737 Max 8 craft, also announced it would ground the planes while the investigation into the crash was ongoing.

Cayman Airways President and Chief Executive Fabian Whorms said the airline was "putting the safety of our passengers and crew first".

More than 300 Boeing 737-MAX planes are in operation and over 5,000 have been ordered worldwide since 2017.

Several other carriers including Fiji Airways, Singapore Airlines, Virgin Australia and Korean Air told the Guardian they did not intend to ground their Boeing aircraft.

Boeing said on Sunday that it was cancelling an event in Seattle to showcase its new 777X airliner scheduled for Wednesday.

Sunday's disaster was the second involving the new aircraft in the last four months.

In October, a Lion Air plane plunged into the sea off the coast of West Java 13 minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 on board.

The crash was the worst aviation disaster in Indonesia in more than two decades.

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