The Chinese civil aviation regulator, Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) has ordered all the domestic carriers to stop flying all Boing 737 Max-8 Aircrafts after a plane of the similar model, operated by Ethiopian Airlines, crashed yesterday, i.e., Sunday March 10, 2019, killing all the 149 passengers and 8 crew members.
246 Chinese domestic routes and 355 domestic flights were scheduled for Monday, March 11, 2019, for the 737 Max 8 plane, which now stand suspended. Besides, CAAC will also contact the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing for consultation.
This is the second such mishap in 5 months. Earlier in October 2018, a similar model of plane crashed in Indonesia killing 189 passengers. Both the crashes occurred during take-off. This has raised several questions on the safety of Boeing 737 Max-8 planes.
Issuing a media statement, CAAC said, “In accordance with CAAC’s management principle of zero tolerance for safety hazards, the authority has instructed all domestic carriers to temporarily halt operations involving the aircraft model before 6pm on March 11.”
A Boeing Spokeswoman said, “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.”
The Chinese Market
China is a major market for Boeing, accounting for 1/5th of its worldwide deliveries of Boeing 737 MAX models. CAAC’s move would impact more than a dozen Chinese carriers, which have taken delivery of close to 100 of the said model from Boeing. The major clients of Boeing in China include China Southern Airlines, Air China, China Eastern Airlines and Hainan Airlines.
China Southern Airlines, which has the largest aircraft fleet in China, owns 23 Boing 737 Max – 8 planes. Air China, Hainan Airlines and Xiamen Airlines have 15, 11 and 10 planes respectively. Each airline carries 138- 230 passengers, depending on their configurations.
Raising concerns across the world – Including India
Following the move by CAAC, the Ethiopian Airlines have also grounded all the Boing 737 Max – 8 planes.
Separately, South Korea was also conducting an emergency safety inspection on 2 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, according to its Transport Ministry.
The Indian civil aviation regulator, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will also speak to Boeing Co. over the safety issues. It will also speak to local airlines Jet Airways and SpiceJet about the use of the aircraft. SpiceJet operates 13 Boeing 737 Max aircraft in its fleet, while Jet Airways operates five such aircraft in its fleet.
The Ministry of Transportation, Indonesia has said that it will increase the supervision of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 in the country.
Globally, more than 300 Boeing 737 Max 8 planes are in operation.