AIRLINES in China, Ethiopia and the Cayman Islands have grounded their Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft after crash involving the same model killed 157 people.
The Ethiopian Airlines flight went down just minutes after taking off from Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital, on Sunday morning.
All 157 people, including 149 passengers and eight crew members, onboard were killed after the aircraft crashed near the town of Bishoftu, 62 km (38 miles) south-east of the capital.
UN animal welfare worker Joanna Toole, 36, was among seven British citizens who died on the flight which crashed at around 8.44am local time (5.44am GMT) while heading to Nairobi in Kenya.
The crash was the second involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 within five months, raising questions about the safety of the plane.
In October, a 737 MAX 8 operated by Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air crashed 13 minutes after take-off from Jakarta on a domestic flight, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board.
As US plane maker Boeing comes under scrutiny, The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said all Chinese airlines had to suspend their use of the 737 MAX 8.
Chinese airlines operate 97 737 MAX 8 aircraft – the latest version of Boeing’s workhorse narrowbody that entered service in 2017.
The CAAC said it would notify airlines as to when they could resume flying the jets after contacting Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ensure flight safety.
“Given that two accidents both involved newly delivered Boeing 737-8 planes and happened during take-off phase, they have some degree of similarity,” the CAAC said.
“They have some degree of similarity”
The regulator said the order was in line with its principle of zero-tolerance on safety hazards.
At least 29 international and domestic flights on Monday had been cancelled and airlines had swapped out the plane on 256 other flights, according to Chinese aviation data firm Variflight.
Ethiopian Airlines said it had grounded its 737 MAX 8 fleet until further notice as an “extra safety precaution”.
However, the cause of Sunday’s crash is yet to be determined.
In a statement, Boeing said: “We have engaged our customers and regulators on concerns they may have – and would refer you to them to discuss their operations and decisions.
“Safety is our number one 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 investigation is in its early stages, but at this point, based on the information available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators.”
Cayman Airways said it had grounded both of its new 737 MAX 8 jets until it got more information. But no other airlines said they were grounding their 737 MAX 8 aircraft.
By the end of January, Boeing had delivered 350 of the 737 MAX family jets to customers, with another 4,661 on order.
In Britain, holiday operator Tui Airways has ordered 32 Max aircraft as part of a major fleet overhaul and took delivery of its first Max 8 in December.
Tui was the first UK-registered airline to receive one of the new Boeing aircraft and plans to roll out its orders over the next five years.
Based at Manchester Airport, the planes are due to ferry passengers to a range of holiday destinations from the north-west.
The carrier’s German parent company is reported to have bought 54 Max 8s.
A TUI spokesperson told Daily Star Online: “We do not comment on any speculation and we are, as always, in close contact with the manufacturer.
“We have no indication that we can’t operate our 737 MAX in a safe way like we do with all other planes in our network.”
Other airlines in Europe to use the Max aircraft include Air Italy, Lot Polish Airlines and Norwegian.