China grounds all its Boeing 737 Max 8 planes following the deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash

Boeing 737 MAX 7

  • China’s aviation authority said on Monday morning local time that it has issued a notice to ground all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes used by domestic airlines in response to the recent Ethiopian Airlines crash which killed 157 people. 
  • According to a statement by the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC), the Ethiopian Airlines crash and the Lion Air crash have certain similarities that have caused concern over the Boeing aircraft. 
  • The notice, issued at 9 a.m. local time, would suspend commercial operation of the aircraft until 6 p.m. on Monday. 

China’s Aviation Authority said on Monday morning local time that it has issued a notice to ground all Boeing 737 Max 8 planes used by domestic airlines in response to the recent Ethiopian Airlines crash which killed 157 people

The Ethiopian Airlines crash occurred six minutes after takeoff on Sunday aboard a Boeing 737 Max 8 plane. This is the second crash involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 plane in recent months — in October, Lion Air flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea 12 minutes after takeoff.

According to a statement posted to the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC)’s website, the Ethiopian Airlines crash and the Lion Air crash have certain similarities that have caused concern over the Boeing aircraft. 

The statement added that both incidents involved newly delivered Boeing 737 max-8 aircrafts and both occurred in the takeoff phase of the flight. 

The notice, issued at 9 a.m. local time, would suspend commercial operation of the aircraft until 6 p.m. on Monday. 

In an email, Boeing declined to comment on the specifics surrounding China’s decision, but said: “a Boeing technical team will be travelling to the crash site [in Ethiopia] to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.”

Sunday’s crash has called the Boeing 737 Max 8 safety into question

FILE - In this Nov. 28, 2018, file photo, National Transportation Safety Committee investigator Nurcahyo Utomo holds a model of an airplane during a press conference on the committee's preliminary findings on their investigation on the crash of Lion Air flight 610, in Jakarta, Indonesia. China's civilian aviation authority has ordered all Chinese airlines to temporarily ground their Boeing 737 Max 8 planes after one of the aircraft crashed in Ethiopia. The Civil Aviation Administration of China said the order was issued at 9 a.m. Beijing time Monday, March 11, 2019 and would last nine hours. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim, File)

157 people, including 149 passengers and 8 crew, died aboard the Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302 to Nairobi on Sunday morning. There were no survivors. 

The flight crashed at 8:44 a.m. on Sunday morning near the town of Bishoftu, 62 kilometers southeast of the capital Addis Ababa. 

The flight’s captain was Yared Getachew who had more than 8,000 cumulative flight hours, the airline said. The flight’s first officer was Ahmed Nur Mohammod Nur who had just 200 hours. It’s unclear how many of the pilots’ flight hours were in the Boeing 737 Max 8.

The brand new Boeing 737 Max 8, registration ET-AVJ, was just delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in November 2018.

According to the airline, the aircraft underwent a rigorous “first check maintenance” on February 4 and had flown back to Addis Ababa from Johannesburg, South Africa earlier in the morning.

The cause of the crash is not yet known. However, flight tracking website Flightradar24 detected that the flight had shown “unstable vertical speed” before crashing.

Adam Bienkov and Reuters contributed to this report.  

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