China orders domestic carriers to ground 737 MAX following Ethiopia crash

China's civil aviation regulator ordered all domestic airlines to suspend the operation of their Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft following a deadly air crash with Ethiopian airlines.

China's civil aviation regulator ordered all domestic airlines to suspend the operation of their Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft by 6pm on Monday following a deadly air crash involving the same aircraft type with Ethiopian airlines.

All 157 people aboard the Ethiopian airlines flight were confirmed dead. The accident occurred a few minutes after the 737 MAX took off from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport to Nairobi, Kenya. 

It is the second air crash involving the 737 MAX within five months. In October 2018, a 737 MAX with Indonesian Lion Air, flight JT610, crashed into the sea with 189 people on board.

Both accidents occurred with newly delivered 737-800 MAX and both happened during takeoff, the administration said in a statement.

"To ensure flight safety, the administration has informed carriers to suspend commercial operation of the aircraft by 6pm," it said.

The administration will contact the US Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing and restore operation of the aircraft only after effective safety measures are conducted.

Chinese airlines are operating a total of 97 Boeing 737-800 MAX aircraft. Domestic operators include China Eastern, Shanghai Airlines, Air China and China Southern, as well as Hainan, Xiamen, Shandong and Shenzhen airlines.

The suspension of the aircraft has led to flight cancellations and delays on Monday morning. Shanghai Airlines has changed to an Airbus 320 to operate its flight from Pudong to Shenyang in northeast Liaoning Province, which was scheduled to be operated by a 737 MAX.

Air China, the biggest Chinese operator of the aircraft, has also deployed a Boeing 737-800 to substitute a 737 MAX for its flight from Beijing to Guiyang in southwest Guizhou Province.

Boeing has delivered a total of 350 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft with over 5,000 orders worldwide.

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