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Ethiopia plane crash: China suspends use of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft

An Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 bound for Nairobi crashed minutes after take-off on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board

Reuters  |  Shanghai 

People walk past a part of the wreckage near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa on Sunday. 	Photo: Reuters
People walk past a part of the wreckage near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa on Sunday. Photo: Reuters

China's aviation regulator said on Monday it had ordered Chinese airlines to suspend their 737 MAX aircraft operations by 6 p.m. (1000 GMT) following a deadly crash of one of the planes in Ethiopia.

An 737 MAX 8 bound for crashed minutes after take-off on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board.

It was the second crash of the 737 MAX, the latest version of Boeing's workhorse narrowbody jet that first entered service in 2017.

In October, a 737 MAX 8 operated by Indonesian crashed 13 minutes after take-off from on a domestic flight, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board.

The (CAAC) said in a statement it would notify airlines as to when they could resume flying the jets after contacting Boeing and the (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 CAAC said, adding that the order was in line with its principle of zero-tolerance on safety harzards. The 737 MAX 8 is sometimes referred to as the 737-8.

The cause of the Indonesian crash is still being investigated. A preliminary report issued in November, before the cockpit voice recorder was recovered, focused on maintenance and training and the response of a Boeing anti-stall system to a recently replaced sensor but did not give a reason for the crash.

Chinese airlines have 96 737 MAX jets in service, the state company regulator said on

Caijing, a Chinese state-run news outlet that covers and economics, said many flights scheduled to use 737 MAX planes would instead use the 737-800 models.

A Boeing declined to comment.

A told the was unsure of what information was acting on.

The U.S. official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter, said there were no plans to follow suit given the 737 MAX had a stellar safety record in the and there was a lack of information about the cause of the Ethiopian crash.

Western industry sources say has been at pains in recent years to assert its independence as a safety regulator as it negotiates mutual safety standard recognition with regulators in the and

In 2017, it signed a mutual recognition deal with the FAA, but industry sources say it has struggled to gain approval from the FAA that would allow it to sell its C919 airliner to


According to flight tracking website FlightRadar24 there were no MAX 8 planes flying over China as of 0043 GMT on Monday.

Most of Air China Ltd's 737 MAX fleet of 15 jets landed on Sunday evening, with the exception of two that landed on Monday morning from destinations, according to data on FlightRadar24.

It did not list any upcoming scheduled flights for the planes, nor did China Southern Airlines Co, which also has its fleet on the ground.

four 737 MAX jets landed on Sunday evening and no further flights were scheduled until Tuesday, FlightRadar24 data showed.

has grounded both of its new 737 MAX 8 jets until more information was received, the said in a statement on its website.

said it had followed a comprehensive induction process for its new MAX 8 aircraft and it had full confidence in the airworthiness of its fleet.

"We continue to ensure that our maintenance and training programme for pilots and engineers meets the highest safety standards," the said.

Singapore Airlines Ltd, whose regional arm operates the 737 MAX, said it was monitoring the situation closely, but its planes continued to operate as scheduled.

said it would continue to monitor its airlines operating the 737 MAX, which include and but it did not mention any plan to ground the planes.


(Reporting by Josh and John Ruwitch; additional reporting by in Shanghai, Stella Qiu in Beijing, David Shepardson in Washington, Tom Westbrook in Sydney, Jamie Freed in Singapore; Edward Davies in and Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Richard Pullin, Robert Birsel)

First Published: Mon, March 11 2019. 09:41 IST