Boeing: Airlines ground 737 Max 8 jets after latest crash

Boeing 737 Max 8Image copyright
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Several airlines have grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 jets following a deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash.

The flight crashed minutes after takeoff on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board.

It was the second disaster in five months involving a Boeing 737 Max 8.

Aviation regulators in China and Indonesia have suspended flights using that model. Ethiopian Airlines and Cayman Airways, have also grounded their 737 Max 8 aircraft.

Boeing shares tumbled 13% in early trading on Wall Street.

While experts warn it is too early to say what caused the Ethiopian Airlines disaster, it comes after the same model crashed in a flight operated by Lion Air in October.

The plane lost altitude soon after takeoff, killing 189 people on board.

“Given that two accidents both involved newly delivered Boeing 737 Max 8 planes and happened during take-off phase, they have some degree of similarity,” the Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a statement.

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The Chinese regulator ordered local carriers to ground all 737 Max 8 flights by 18:00 local time (10:00 GMT).

Air China, China Eastern Airlines, Kunming Airlines, and China Southern Airlines are among the carriers affected. More than 90 Boeing 737 Max 8 models are in use in mainland China.

The Indonesian Transport Ministry said inspections would begin on 12 March of one Garuda Indonesia plane and 10 operated by Lion Air. Planes would be grounded until cleared by safety regulator.

Shares in French aerospace group Safran, which makes the engines for the 737, fell on Monday.

The aircraft is relatively new to the skies, having only been in commercial use since 2017.

Boeing said it was “deeply saddened” by the crash and is sending a team to provide technical assistance to the investigation.

The investigation will be led by Ethiopian authorities co-ordinating with teams of experts from Boeing and the US National Transportation Safety Board.

The Indian government said it was discussing the situation with local regulators. Jet Airways and SpiceJet – neither of which made any comment – both use the aircraft.

Which airlines use the 737 Max 8?

According to Boeing’s website, 16 airlines have taken delivery of the 737 Max 8. 

TUI Group has 15 in its fleet and said it is in close contact with the manufacturer, but has no plans to take them out of service. It is the only airline to have any such planes registered with the UK’s Civil Aviation Authority.

A spokesperson for Flydubai told Reuters the carrier is “monitoring the situation”.

Norwegian Airlines, which has 18 in its fleet largely flying between Ireland the US, is continuing to use the planes.

Its director of flight operations said the airline will follow any recommendations from Boeing and aviation authorities. It has three – including one from London Gatwick to Helsinki – in use today.

Singapore’s SilkAir said it was in contact with Boeing and all its fights using 737 Max 8 aircraft – of which it has six – are operating as normal, while Air Italy is also operating its planes as normal.

Several North American airlines also operate the aircraft and have said they are monitoring the investigation.

Southwest Airlines flies 34 of the aircraft and said it had been in contact with Boeing and was operating as normal.

American Airlines and Air Canada each have 24 in their fleet.