China grounds Boeing 737 MAX 8

Operation of the model will only resume after ‘confirming the relevant

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 statement cited 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, which 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 (COMAC) 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.

This is second time in less than six months, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 has crashed minutes after takeoff and killed everyone on board, raising fresh questions about the safety of a model that is crucial to the US giant’s future plans.

On Sunday, the 157 passengers and crew members of a 737 MAX operated by Ethiopian Airlines were killed. It was the same model as the plane that crashed in Indonesia in October, claiming the lives of the 189 people it carried.

Only the flight data and cockpit conversation contained in the aircraft’s two black boxes can provide tangible evidence of what may have caused the latest accident — technical problems, pilot error or a combination of factors.

“The pilot mentioned that he had difficulties and he wants to return. He was given clearance to turn around,” Ethiopian Airlines chief executive Tewolde GebreMariam told reporters in Addis Ababa?

After investigators experts said  the doomed aircraft had problems with its airspeed indicator and angle of attack (AoA) sensors, Boeing issued a special bulletin telling operators what to do when they face the same situation.

An AoA sensor provides data about the angle at which air passes over the wings and tells pilots how much lift a plane is getting. The information can be critical in preventing an aircraft from stalling.

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