China on Monday ordered domestic airlines to suspend commercial operation of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, citing the Ethiopian Airlines crash and another deadly accident of that same model in Indonesia.
Noting the “similarities” between the two accidents, China’s Civil Aviation Administration said domestic airlines had until 6:00 pm local time (1000 GMT) to ground all 737 MAX 8 aircraft.
Operation of the model will only resume after “confirming the relevant measures to effectively ensure flight safety”, the administration said in a statement. The aviation authority will contact the US Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing, it said.
The factory delivered its first MAX 8 plane to Air China in December. The planes are assembled in Renton, Washington state, and taken to Zhoushan to finish the interior work, according to Boeing.
The statement referred to the Kenya-bound Ethiopian Airlines flight that crashed minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board, including eight from China.
It also mentioned the Indonesia Lion Air flight that crashed after takeoff from Jakarta in October, killing all 189 people on board. China is an important market for the US aircraft company, accounting for about one-fifth of worldwide deliveries of Boeing 737 MAX models.
The company has delivered 76 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to Chinese airlines, which have ordered another 104, according to data from the aircraft maker’s website updated through January.
Boeing and joint venture partner Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China operate a plant in the eastern city of Zhoushan that completes the interiors of 737 MAX planes for Chinese airlines.
The factory delivered its first MAX 8 plane to Air China in December. The planes are assembled in Renton, Washington state, and taken to Zhoushan to finish the interior work, according to Boeing. Chinese President Xi Jinping sent his condolences to the leaders of Ethiopia and Kenya, foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said in a regular briefing.
Four of the Chinese victims are employees of Chinese companies, two work for the United Nations and two were people from Liaoning and Zhejiang provinces on personal trips, Lu said.
“China hopes Ethiopia will find the cause as soon as possible, keep China posted, and properly handle the follow-up work,” Lu added.
© Agence France-Presse