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Boeing 737 MAX (image: Boeing)

Airlines ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 after crash

China, Ethiopia, Indonesia and others have taken the step to stop all flights, are making emergency inspections or are seeking further clarity.

China, Indonesia and Ethiopia have grounded all Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft and a number of airlines around the world are hastily carrying out safety checks on the aircraft type following the Ethiopian Airlines crash yesterday that killed 157 people.

This morning, China ordered its domestic carriers to suspend flights by 96 planes of the aircraft type, giving the airlines until this 18:00 local time to implement the measure.

Soon afterwards, Ethiopian Airlines said it too was grounding the remaining four of its 737 MAX 8s. It also has 25 more planes of the same model on order.

The crash comes just months after the Lion Air disaster with the same new Boeing aircraft type in Indonesia, killing 189 people. China’s Civil Aviation Administration pointed to “similarities” between the two accidents.

Flights with the model will resume after “confirming the relevant measures to effectively ensure flight safety,” China’s civil aviation administration said.

“Given that two accidents both involved newly delivered Boeing 737-8 planes and happened during take-off phase, they have some degree of similarity,” it explained.

Safety precaution
It is not yet known what caused Sunday’s crash, but Ethiopian Airlines said it was grounding its remaining MAX 8s until further notice as an “extra safety precaution”.

Indonesia has also announced it is halting all Boeing 737 MAX 8 flights. 

South Korea is reported to be conducting an emergency safety inspection on two Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, the broadcaster Al Jazeera reports, while India is consulting on the issue with Boeing and the country’s airlines Jet Airways and SpiceJet.

Boeing says that a technical team is travelling to the crash site “to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and US National Transportation Safety Board,” its statement on the accident reads.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, a US official says there are no plans to ground the 737 MAX in the USA, reports say. This is due to the model’s stellar safety record there and because the cause of the Ethiopian crash has yet to be determined.

Norwegian responds
In Europe, the companies with the most Boeing 737 MAX 8s are currently Norwegian, Icelandair, TUI and Turkish Airlines with 15, four, nine and 11 of the planes, respectively.

“All of our 737 MAX 8 planes are flying as normal. We are, as always, in close dialogue with Boeing and relate to their recommendations. Our passengers’ safety always comes first. We do not want to comment or speculate further on this tragic event,” Tomas Hesthammer, Norwegian’s air traffic director, tells the Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet.

Boeing has received orders for a total of 5,111 of its 737 MAX aircraft, including the versions MAX 8, MAX 9 and MAX 10. The US manufacturer has so far delivered 350 of them to airlines worldwide.

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