China orders its airlines to suspend the use of the Boeing 737 Max

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SHANGHAI (Reuters) – The Chinese aviation regulator announced today that it has ordered Chinese airlines to suspend the Boeing Co 737 MAX aircraft operations by 6 pm. (5:00 ET) after a fatal accident of a 737 MAX 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines.

PHOTO FILE: Workers attend a ceremony marking the first delivery of a Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft to Air China in the Boeing Zhoushan completion center in Zhoushan, Zhejiang Province, China, December 15, 2018. REUTERS / Thomas Peter / File Photo

An Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max 8 bound for Nairobi crashed a few minutes after Sunday's departure, killing all 157 people on board.

It was the second incident of the 737 MAX, the latest version of Boeing's narrow-bodied racing jet, entered for the first time in 2017.

In October, a 737 MAX flight carried out by Indonesian carrier Lion Air flying from Jakarta on an internal flight crashed 13 minutes after takeoff, killing 189 passengers and crew members on board.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) stated in a statement that it would notify airlines when they could resume jet flights after contacting Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration to ensure the flight safety.

"Considering that two incidents involved the newly delivered Boeing 737-8 aircraft and occurred during the take-off phase, they have a certain degree of similarity," said the CAAC, adding that the order was in line with the its zero tolerance principle on security harzards.

The cause of the Indonesian crash is still under study. A preliminary report published in November, before the driver's cab recorder was recovered, focused on maintenance and training of airlines and on the response of a Boeing anti-stall system to a recently replaced sensor that did not provide a reason for the accident.

The Chinese airlines have 96 jet 737 MAX in service, said the state company regulator on Weibo.

Caijing, a Chinese government landmark that covers finance and economics, said that many flights scheduled to use 737 Max aircraft should instead use the 737-800 models.

A Boeing spokesman declined to comment.

A US official told Reuters that the United States was not sure what information was going on in China.

The US official, speaking on condition of anonymity because of the delicacy of the matter, said that there were no plans to follow the example since the 737 MAX had a stellar security record in the US and c & # 39; it was a lack of information on the cause of the Ethiopian Incident

SAFETY STANDARDS

According to the FlightRadar24 flight monitoring site, there were no Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft flying over China from 0043 GMT on Monday.

Most of the 737 MAX fleet of Air China Ltd, consisting of 15 jets, landed on Sunday night, except for two landed on Monday morning from international destinations, according to FlightRadar24 data.

He has not listed any next scheduled flight for the planes, nor the China Southern Airlines Co, which also has its fleet on the ground.

The five 737 MAX jets from China Eastern Airlines Corp have landed on Sunday evening and no further flights have been scheduled until Tuesday, according to FlightRadar24 data.

Cayman Airways has grounded both of its new 737 MAX 8 jets until further information has been received, the Cayman Islands airline said in a statement on its website.

Fiji Airways has declared that it has followed a complete induction process for its new Boeing 737 MAX 8 and has full confidence in the airworthiness of its fleet.

"We continue to ensure that our maintenance and training program for pilots and engineers meets the highest safety standards," said the airline.

Singapore Airlines Ltd, whose regional arm SilkAir manages the 737 MAX, said it was monitoring the situation closely, but its aircraft continued to function as intended.

Indonesia has said it will continue to monitor its airlines operating the 737 MAX, which include Lion Air and Garuda Indonesia, but has not mentioned any grounding plan for airplanes.

Reporting by Josh Horwitz and John Ruwitch; additional reports by Brenda Goh in Shanghai, Stella Qiu in Beijing, David Shepardson in Washington, Tom Westbrook in Sydney, Jamie Freed in Singapore; Edward Davies in Jakarta and Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Richard Pullin, Robert Birsel

Our standards:The principles of Thomson Reuters Trust.

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