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China, Ethiopia suspend use of Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes after latest crash

11 Mar 2019, 02:23 pm
Financial Nigeria
China, Ethiopia suspend use of Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes after latest crash

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The Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 that crashed on Sunday is the second Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft to crash in six months.

An Ethiopian Airlines' Boeing 737 Max 8 plane

The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) and Ethiopian Airlines have suspended the use of all Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, following the latter’s plane crash, which killed all 157 people on-board – including eight crew members and 149 passengers – yesterday.

On Sunday, Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, en route to Nairobi, Kenya, crashed shortly after take-off from Bole International Airport, Addis Ababa. It had reported technical problems and asked for permission to turn back just before the crash. This makes it the second Boeing aircraft to crash in six months. In October 2018, a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX 8 flight went down over the Java Sea in Jakarta, Indonesia, killing all 189 passengers.

The CAAC, in a statement on Monday, said all domestic airlines have until 6 pm local time (11 am in Lagos) to ground all Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, due to its principle of “zero tolerance on safety hazards.”

“Given that (the) two accidents both involved newly delivered Boeing 737-8 planes and happened during the take-off phase, they have some degree of similarity,” the Chinese aviation authority said, adding that Boeing and the United States Federal Aviation Administration would be contacted to confirm “flight safety” issues before the planes are allowed to fly again.

According to the data on Boeing’s website, which was updated in January, 76 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft have been delivered to Chinese airlines, with 104 new orders. Currently operating 97 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, China is an important market for the US aircraft company. Caijing, a Chinese state-run news outlet covering finance and economics, said many flights scheduled to use the Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes would instead use the 737-800 models.

On its part, Ethiopian Airlines in a statement said, “Although we don’t yet know the cause of the accident, we had to decide to ground the particular fleet as an extra safety precaution.” Effective immediately, the Ethiopian Airlines decided to ground all Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet until further notice.

“As it is a fresh incident, we have not been able to determine the cause,” Tewolde GebreMariam, CEO of Ethiopian Airlines, said concerning the plane crash. “A routine maintenance check had not revealed anything before take-off.” He added that a committee has been set up to carry out forensic investigation and identify the bodies of the 157 victims.

According to the manifest from the Ethiopian Airlines, the 157 victims are from 35 countries, with Kenya (32), Canada (18), Ethiopia (9), China (8), Italy (8) and the United States (8). Two Nigerians, Pius Adesanmi and Abiodun Bashua, have been reported to be among the victims.

President Muhammadu Buhari, in a statement released by his Senior Special Assistant on Media and Publicity, Garba Shehu, said, “My thoughts are with the families and friends of these distinguished Nigerians and the other passengers and crew who lost their lives in the plane crash in Addis Ababa.”

Adesanmi, until his death, was a Professor of Literature and African studies, and the Director of Centre for African Studies at the Carleton University in Ottawa, Canada. Bashua was a diplomat with extensive experience in several United Nations peacekeeping operations in Africa.

Meanwhile, according to a report released last month by the International Air Transport Association (IATA), airlines in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) had recorded zero jet hull losses and zero fatalities in jet operations for three consecutive years. According to the 2018 Airline Safety Performance report, Africa was the only region to see a decline in the all-accident rate compared to 2017.

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