China and Indonesia ground Boeing 737 Max 8 planes

By
|

EJERE, Ethiopia (AP) -- Authorities in Ethiopia, China and Indonesia grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft Monday following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jetliner that killed 157 people, and investigators found the flight recorders from the field where the plane went down.

The new plane crashed shortly after takeoff in clear weather outside Addis Ababa on Sunday, and the airline decided to ground its remaining four 737 Max 8s until further notice as "an extra safety precaution," spokesman Asrat Begashaw said. Ethiopian Airlines had been using five of the planes and awaits delivery of 25 more.

Sunday's crash was strikingly similar to that of a Lion Air jet of the same Boeing model in Indonesian seas last year, killing 189 people. The crash was likely to renew questions about the 737 Max 8, the newest version of Boeing's popular single-aisle airliner, which was first introduced in 1967 and has become the world's most common passenger jet.

Safety experts cautioned against drawing too many comparisons between the two crashes until more is known about the disaster. Besides the groundings in China and Indonesia, Caribbean carrier Cayman Airways temporarily grounded its Max 8s.

The crash shattered more than two years of relative calm in African skies, where travel had long been chaotic. It also was a serious blow to the Ethiopian Airlines, which has expanded to become the continent's largest and best-managed carrier and turned Addis Ababa into the gateway to Africa.

The state-owned carrier has a good reputation and the company's CEO told reporters no problems were seen before Sunday's fight. But investigators also will look into the plane's maintenance, which may have been an issue in the Lion Air crash.

The plane was delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in November. The jet's last maintenance was on Feb. 4, and it had flown just 1,200 hours.

China's Civil Aviation Administration said that it ordered airlines to ground all 737 Max 8 aircraft on Monday, in line with the principle of "zero tolerance for security risks."

It said it would issue further notices after consulting with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing.

China Southern Airlines is one of Boeing's biggest customers for the aircraft.

Chicago-based Boeing said it did not intend to issue any new guidance to its customers. It plans to send a technical team to the crash site to help Ethiopian and U.S. investigators, however, and issued a statement saying it was "deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew" on the Ethiopian Airlines Max airplane.

The 737 is the best-selling airliner in history, and the Max, the newest version of it with more fuel-efficient engines, is a central part of Boeing's strategy to compete with European rival Airbus.

"Safety is our No. 1 priority and we are taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this accident, working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved," the company said in a statement.
___

Meseret reported from Addis Ababa.

Comments
JDS Travel News JDS Viewpoints JDS Africa/MI