• The newest version of Boeing’s most popular jet is again under scrutiny after a deadly crash on Sunday, leading airlines around the world to ground their fleet’s 737 Max 8 planes.
• China’s Civil Aviation Administration ordered its airlines on Monday morning to ground all of the country’s 96 aircraft in operation.
• A Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. The circumstances were similar to an October crash in Indonesia that killed 189 people.
China grounds all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft
China ordered its airlines on Monday to ground all 96 of the aircraft that they operate.
The Chinese aviation regulator said in its announcement that it had notified Chinese air carriers at 9 a.m. that they had nine hours to take the planes out of service.
Flight tracking websites showed that Chinese airlines were substituting Boeing 737-800s on Monday morning on routes where they had previously operated a Boeing 737 Max 8.
China’s main airlines are among the biggest users so far of the new Boeing jets, having taken delivery of most of the planes they have ordered. By contrast, many other carriers, often in slower-growing markets than China’s, have taken delivery of only a small fraction of their orders for the Boeing 737 Max 8.
Crashes could create oppurtunity for Chinese business
China’s speed in acting well ahead of any national or regional authority took place against a complicated backdrop of trade and commerce. And the tragedies in Indonesia and Ethiopia could create a lucrative business opportunity for China’s nascent aircraft industry.
Boeing aircraft are some of China’s biggest imports from the United States and are among the few imports on which China has not imposed tarifs as part of its trade war with the Trump administration.
A state-owned enterprise with massive loans from state-controlled banks, the Commercial Aircraft Corporation of China in Shanghai, better known as Comac, is trying to push its way into the commercial aircraft market. Comac has already done test flights of its C919, a direct competitor to the Boeing 737, and plans to start delivering it in 2021, with the first plane going to state-controlled China Eastern Airlines.
The C919 is a single-aisle jet with similar capacity to a Boeing 737 or an Airbus A320neo.
European regulators have not yet taken action on the Boeing 737 Max 8. The Airbus 320neo is a more direct competitor of the Boeing 737, as the C919 reportedly will have worse fuel economy than either of them, plus an unproven safety record.
Victims of crash came from around the world
Black body bags were spread across the red sands near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, on Monday as word of the crash traveled to the families of 157 victims in 35 countries.
Investigators have yet to locate the flight data recorder, the so-called black box, which they hope will shed light on what brought down a new plane on a clear, sunny day.
A list of the dead released by Ethiopian Airlines included passengers from China, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Israel, India and Somalia. Kenya lost 32 citizens. Canada lost 18.
The flight was intended to fly from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Nairobi, Kenya. Many of the victims worked for the United Nations and were set to attend a conference on the environment in Nairobi on Monday.