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China grounds 737 Max following Ethiopian disaster

The Civil Aviation Administration of China has ordered the country’s Boeing 737 Max operators to ground the type following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 on 10 March, less than five months after a Lion Air jet of the same type crashed.

In a statement, the regulator says it issued a notice at 09:00 local time, calling on domestic operators of the Max to suspend commercial operation of the type by 18:00 local time on 11 March.

“In view of the fact that the two air crashes are newly delivered Boeing 737-8 aircraft, and they all occur in the take-off phase, they have certain similarities,” says the CAAC.

It adds that it will be in contact with the US Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing, and will allow Chinese airlines to resume operation of the type only after confirming measures to effectively ensure flight safety.

When contacted, Boeing declined to comment.

Cirium’s Fleets Analyzer shows that there are 97 737 Max 8s in China with 14 operators. China Southern Airlines is the largest operator with 24 examples, followed by Air China with 15, and Shanghai Airlines and Hainan Airlines each with 11.

Cayman Airlines is the other operator that has suspended operations of its Max fleet following the Ethiopian crash. Major operators Southwest Air, American Airlines and Air Canada however told FlightGlobal that they will continue operating the type.

ET302 was operating the Addis Ababa-Nairobi route when it crashed six minutes after take-off, killing all 157 onboard. Investigations are ongoing. This follows a Lion Air 737 Max 8 crash on 29 October 2019 that killed 189. The Lion jet crashed 12 minutes after take-off from Jakarta. The cause of the Lion crash has yet to be established, but investigators know that the jet experienced flight-control problems within minutes of becoming airborne, with fluctuating altitude and automatic nose-down trimming as it attempted to climb to its cruise level.

Story updated to reflect changes to Chinese 737 Max active fleet

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