Boeing 737 MAX 8 grounded in much of Asia-Pacific region over safety concerns

2019-03-13 16:31:12Xinhua Editor : Gu Liping ECNS App Download

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft have been grounded in a number of countries and regions in Asia-Pacific amid safety concerns following the fatal crash of an Ethiopian Airlines' passenger jet on Sunday.

The Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 bound for Nairobi, Kenya crashed shortly after taking off from Addis Ababa on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board.

It was the second deadly crash for a Boeing 737 MAX 8 model in less than five months. The first one occurred in October last year when an aircraft of the same model operated by Indonesia's Lion Air plunged into the water off western Indonesia minutes after taking off, killing 189 people.

China's civil aviation regulator on Monday ordered domestic airlines to suspend commercial operations of all Boeing 737-8 airplanes.

"Given that two accidents both involved the newly delivered Boeing 737-8 planes and happened during the take-off phase, they had some degree of similarity," the Civil Aviation Administration said on its website, adding that the move was in line with the principle of zero tolerance for safety hazards.

Indonesia's transport ministry said on Monday that Indonesia has suspended operations of all Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes operated by airlines in the country.

"We have temporarily grounded the planes to conduct inspection," the ministry's spokesman Hengki Angkasawan told Xinhua, "Boeing has informed us some findings in a release. We will inspect based on them. Later, If we find (violation) we will fully ground the planes."

He did not give further details on how long the inspection will take.

Boeing 737 MAX planes are operated by two Indonesian carriers - Lion Air and state-owned PT Garuda Indonesia, according to Hengki.

Lion Air has ordered 222 Boeing 737 MAX 8, 9 and 10 valued at 22 billion U.S. dollars with delivery by 2035.

Managing Director of Lion Air Group Daniel Putu said on Tuesday that currently the airline and Boeing are conducting talks and renegotiation on the cancelation of the orders and the possibility of changing them with other types of planes.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore also temporarily suspended all Boeing 737 MAX flights in its airspace on Tuesday.

The decision was made "in light of two fatal accidents involving Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in less than five months," the aviation regulator said.

Eastar Jet, the only South Korean air carrier that owns two Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes, decided on Tuesday to temporarily ground the jets to alleviate public concerns about the plane's safety.

South Korea's transport ministry conducted an emergency safety check on Monday on the two Boeing planes owned by the budget carrier.

Australia's Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) said on Tuesday night that all 737 MAX flights in and out of the country had been suspended in the interest of public safety.

"CASA regrets any inconvenience to passengers but believes it is important to always put safety first," said Shane Carmody, CASA chief executive and director of aviation safety.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia also ordered an immediate suspension of all flights of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 in its airspace on Tuesday while clarifying no Malaysian carriers operates the aircraft.

Meanwhile, the Indian government has decided to ground with immediate effect the entire fleet of Boeing 737 MAX operating in the country.

"These planes will be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations," said the country's Aviation Ministry in a tweet late on Tuesday.

According to media reports, SpiceJet and Jet Airways are the only two private airlines in India that operate Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. SpiceJet has 12 such planes. Jet Airways' five such planes are already grounded due to the airline's financial issues.

The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam decided to the Vietnamese air space to Boeing 737 MAX since 10:00 a.m. local time of Wednesday.

To date, no airline in Vietnam has used Boeing 737 MAX.

Also on Wednesday, Fiji decided to temporarily ground its fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, and New Zealand announced it has suspended the operation of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft to or from the country.

The Civil Aviation Department of China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government announced on Wednesday that operation of all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into, out of and over Hong Kong will be temporarily prohibited from 6:00 p.m. local time (1000 GMT).


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