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Following the fatal crash of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 on 10 March 2019, Civil Aviation Administration of China requested all its domestic carriers to suspend the operations of MAX 8 planes.
According to the statement, domestic airlines of China are obliged to ground MAX 8 aircraft until 6 PM 11 March 2019. Flight tracking websites already show Chinese airlines substituting MAX 8 aircraft with other planes on Monday morning.
The statement also said that China will resume the operations of its MAX 8 aircraft after contacting the US Federal Aviation Administration as well as the Boeing company and ”confirming the relevant measures to effectively ensure flight safety”.
Chinese state-run media reports indicate that in total there are 97 MAX 8 aircraft in service which will be grounded. In fact, Chinese carriers are among the biggest Boeing customers for MAX planes, counting for almost 20% of MAX deliveries worldwide through January 2019.
The first flight of Boeing 737 MAX 8 was performed by Malindo Air on 22 May 2017. As for January 2019, Boeing has delivered 350 MAX planes with 5,011 aircraft still being on the order list.
Ethiopian Airlines Crash Links with Lion Air Accident
Ethiopian Airlines flight ET-302 crash is the second deadly crash involving Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in less than six months. The first fatal accident happened on 29 October 2018 when MAX 8 operated by Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea in Indonesia killing 189 on board.
The investigation of the Lion Air crash is still underway and no final conclusions were reported. Even though preliminary report revealed that pilots struggled to maintain control following an equipment malfunction during take-off.
Some are drawing the links between the two crashes as both happened minutes after take-off, however, aviation officials and safety experts say it is too early to link these accidents as too many questions are unanswered.