China orders airlines to cease Boeing MAX ops
China’s aviation regulator said on Monday (11 March) it had ordered Chinese airlines to suspend their Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operations following a deadly crash of a 737 MAX 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines, Reuters reported from Shanghai. The Ethiopian accident 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 flown by Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air flying from Jakarta on a domestic flight crashed 13 minutes after take-off, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said in a statement it would notify airlines as to when they could resume flying the jets after contacting Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration 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 hazards.
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 airline 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, according to the Reuters report.
Chinese airlines have 96 737 MAX jets in service, the state company regulator said on Weibo.
A Boeing spokesman declined to comment to Reuters and another Boeing official attending the Routes Asia airline-airport conference in Cebu in the Philippines also declined to comment to Asian Aviation.