Airlines

China and Indonesia ground all Boeing 737 MAX-8s after Ethiopia crash

Key Points
  • China, Indonesia, and Ethiopia grounded their Boeing 737 MAX-8 fleets on Monday.
  • Investigators found the black box from a crash that killed 157 people in the second disaster involving that airplane model in six months.
  • The Ethiopian Airlines jet bound for Nairobi came down minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa on Sunday, killing all on board.
A man carries a piece of debris on his head at the crash site of a Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines flight near Bishoftu, a town some 60 kilometers southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 10, 2019.
Michael Tewelde | AFP | Getty Images

China, Indonesia, and Ethiopia grounded their Boeing 737 MAX-8 fleets on Monday while investigators found the black box from a crash that killed 157 people in the second disaster involving that airplane model in six months.

India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) also said it is reviewing safety issues related to Boeing's 737 MAX-8 aircraft operating in the country.

The DGCA said it would issue additional safety instructions later on Monday or Tuesday for Indian carriers operating the Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes in India. Full service carrier Jet Airways and low-cost carrier SpiceJet own and operate these aircraft in India.

The Ethiopian Airlines jet bound for Nairobi came down minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa on Sunday, killing all on board. The victims came from 33 nations and included 22 United Nations' staff.

The discovery of the black box with both the cockpit voice recorder and digital flight data, reported by Ethiopian state TV, should shed light on the cause of the crash.

At the scene, men in Red Cross jackets picked through the dirt, putting items in black paper bags, while investigators hunted for the black box voice recorders.

"Although we don't yet know the cause of the crash, we had to decide to ground the particular fleet as extra safety precaution," Ethiopian Airlines said. It has four other 737 MAX-8 jets, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.

The 737 line is the world's best selling modern passenger aircraft and viewed as one of the industry's most reliable.

China's 'zero tolerance'

China on Monday also ordered its airlines to suspend operations of their 737 MAX-8 jets by 6 p.m. following the second crash of a Boeing 737 MAX jet since one run by Indonesia's Lion Air went down in October.

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said it would notify airlines when they could resume flying the jets, after contacting Boeing and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

"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, adding the step was in line with its principle of zero tolerance of safety hazards. The 737 MAX-8 is sometimes referred to as the 737-8.

Indonesia also said it would temporarily ground Boeing 737 MAX-8 aircraft for inspection.

In October, a 737 MAX-8 operated by budget carrier Lion Air crashed 13 minutes after take-off from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on a domestic flight, killing all 189 on board.

Cayman Airways sad it had grounded both of its new 737 MAX-8 jets temporarily too, while India announced a safety review.

A senior U.S. official said it was too early to tell if there was any direct connection between the two accidents but assessing that was a priority for investigators.

By January-end, Boeing had delivered 350 of the 737 MAX-8 family jets to customers, with 4,661 more on order.

Boeing shares slid almost 10 percent in early trading on Monday. The move, if maintained through normal trading hours, would be the biggest fall in Boeing's stock in nearly two decades, halting a surge that has seen it triple in value in just over three years to a record high of $446 last week.

Mourning

Ethiopia's parliament declared Monday a day of mourning.

A global summit in Nairobi opened with a moment of silence as some wept for the U.N. members killed in one of the deadliest aviation accidents in the organization's history.

The dead include a 28-year-old Norwegian Red Cross worker, three Austrian aid workers on their way to Zanzibar, a Nigerian-Canadian professor known for mentoring young colleagues, and an Italian archaeologist, employers and foreign ministries said.

The pilot Yared Getachew, who was a joint Ethiopian-Kenyan national, had a "commendable record" and more than 8,000 hours of flying experience, Ethiopian Airlines said.

Kenyan authorities had managed to contact the families of 25 of the 32 Kenyan passengers, cabinet secretary for transport James Macharia told journalists at the airport on Monday.

Experienced pilot

Ethiopian Airlines said its pilot Yared Getachew, who was a dual Ethiopian-Kenyan national, had a "commendable record" and more than 8,000 hours of flying experience.

The airplane was received in November 2018, had flown more than 1,200 hours, and returned from Johannesburg earlier on Sunday, Chief Executive Tewolde GebreMariam. Nevertheless, Getachew had mentioned difficulties and wanted to return.

It crashed near the town of Bishoftu, 38 miles southeast of the capital Addis Ababa, with 149 passengers and eight crew aboard.

The flight had unstable vertical speed after take off, the flight tracking website Flightradar24 tweeted.

Data released by the Sweden-based service suggested the aircraft had climbed almost 1,000 feet after taking off from Addis Ababa, a hot and high-altitude airport whose thinner air requires extra effort from an aircraft's engines.

It dipped about 450 feet before rapidly climbing another 900 feet until the point where satellite tracking data was lost.

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Airlines

Boeing shares tumble 5% after deadly crash of popular 737 jet

Key Points
  • Boeing shares fell 5% after second deadly crash of popular 737 model in less than five months.
  • The move comes a day after an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed, killing 157 people.
  • The plane is a Boeing best-seller, and China's aviation regulator decided to ask airlines to ground the planes.