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Ethiopian Airlines grounds fleet of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft after crash

Ethiopian Airlines grounds fleet of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft after crash

Ethiopia

Ethiopian Airlines on Monday said it had grounded its 737 MAX 8 fleet until further notice, following Sunday’s plane crash that killed all 157 people on board.

In a statement posted on its official social media accounts, the airline said it was grounding the 737-8 fleet as an “extra safety precaution” even though it did not know the cause of Sunday’s crash.

The airline has a remaining fleet of four of the aircraft, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.

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

China grounds nearly 100 planes

China’s aviation regulator on Monday grounded nearly 100 Boeing Co 737 MAX 8 aircraft operated by its airlines, more than a quarter of the global fleet of the jets.

Sunday’s Ethiopian Airlines crash was the second of the 737 MAX 8, the latest version of Boeing’s workhorse narrowbody jet that first entered service in 2017.

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

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said all Chinese airlines had to suspend their use of the 737 MAX 8 by 6 p.m. (1000 GMT).

The CAAC said it would notify airlines as to when they could resume flying the jets after contacting Boeing and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (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 hazards.

A Boeing spokesman declined to comment.

Other Airlines respond

Sunday’s crash also prompted other airlines to act including Cayman Airways which said it had grounded both of its new 737 MAX 8 jets until it got more information.

Indonesia said it would monitor its airlines operating the 737 MAX 8, which include Lion Air and Garuda Indonesia but did not mention any plan to ground them.

Garuda Chief Executive Ari Ashkhara said the national carrier was operating its one 737 MAX 8 with extra inspection procedures on the airspeed and altitude, flight control and stall management systems. Lion Air declined to comment.

U.S. operators Southwest Airlines Co and American Airlines Group Inc said they remained fully confident in the aircraft and were closely monitoring the investigation.

Singapore Airlines Ltd, whose regional arm SilkAir operates the 737 MAX 8, said it was monitoring the situation closely, but its planes would operate as scheduled.

South Korea is conducting an emergency inspection on Eastar Jet’s two 737 MAX 8 jets, a transport ministry official said. The airline could not be reached immediately for comment.

Fiji Airways and flydubai said they were confident in the airworthiness of their 737 MAX 8 fleets.

Korean Air Lines said there were no changes to its plans to order 30 737 MAX 8 jets, with the first expected to arrive in April.

Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd said it was too early to comment on the Ethiopian accident or its effect on the 30 737 MAX 8 jets it has on order, while Air Niugini, which has ordered four, said it had “full confidence” in the Boeing product.

REUTERS

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