Following the fatal crash of Ethiopian Airlines ET302, China is one of a few countries that have ordered local airlines operating the Boeing 737 Max 8 to suspend its use.
The order comes as the crash of ET302 was the second involving one of the new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) noted the first incident – Lion Air JT610 in October 2018 – which also involved the same aircraft.
ET302 crashed near Bishoftu near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia just after taking off from Bole Airport to Nairobi, Kenya. All 157 passengers and crew were killed, and the investigation as to the cause of the accident is ongoing.
Lion Air JT610 crashed more than 10 minutes after it departed Jakarta while on its way to Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia claiming 189 passengers and crew.
While the investigations are beginning for ET302, the CAAC issued a statement saying: "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 added that it would notify Chinese-based airlines operating the 737 MAX jets after consulting with the Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration.
Chinese carriers have been a major customer for Boeing’s 737 MAX jets, accounting for 17% of the 350 delivered jets. Among the Chinese-based airlines that have the 737 MAX in their fleet include China Southern, Air China, China Eastern, and Xiamen Air. Below is the numbers of 737 MAX 8 operated/on-order with several China-based airlines:
Air China – 15 / 30 on-order
Xiamen Air – 10/ 10 on-order
China Southern – 24/ 56 on-order
China Eastern – 14/36 on-order
Shandong Airlines – 6/ 28 on-order
Shenzhen Airlines – 5/ 25 on-order
Hainan Airlines – 11/39 on-order
The stakes have major implications for Boeing, as the 737 MAX has been a popular aircraft with other regional airlines also operating the aircraft and/or have them on order. Among the Asia/Pacific airlines that operate the aircraft include Singapore’s SilkAir and Korean LCC Eastar Jet.