China, Ethiopia and Cayman Islands ground Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft after crash
Ethiopian Airlines(LONDON) — A growing list of airline carriers around the world are grounding their fleets of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in the wake of a crash of the same model that killed all 157 people on board.
A new Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines went down in clear weather on Sunday morning just minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in Ethiopia’s capital. The American-made jet was headed to Nairobi, Kenya.
A total of 149 passengers and 8 crew members were believed to be on board Flight 302, and there were no survivors, according to Ethiopian Airlines.
The cause of the crash is under investigation. The National Transportation Safety Board of the United States said it’s sending a team of four to assist in the probe. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration said it plans to join the NTSB in assisting Ethiopian authorities.
Ethiopian Airlines said two black boxes — the digital flight data recorder and the cockpit voice recorder — have been recovered from the wreckage.
The same type of plane crashed into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff from Indonesia on Oct. 29, killing all 189 people on board.
Seventy-two Boeing 737 Max planes are currently flying in the U.S., according to Boeing.
China’s aviation regulator on Monday ordered all Chinese airlines to suspend operations of Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, which entered service in May 2017. Using those planes won’t resume until “confirming the relevant measures to effectively ensure flight safety,” the Civil Aviation Administration of China said in a statement.
Cayman Airways said it will ground its two Boeing 737 Max 8 jets “until more information is received.”
“While the cause of this sad loss is undetermined at this time, we stand by our commitment to putting the safety of our passengers and crew first by maintaining complete and undoubtable safe operations,” Cayman Airways president and CEO Fabian Whorms said in a statement Sunday night.
Ethiopian Airlines announced that it has also suspended use of the model “until further notice.”
“Although we don’t yet know the cause of the accident, we had to decide to ground the particular fleet as extra safety precaution,” the state-owned airline said in a statement early Monday.
Meanwhile, Indonesia’s aviation regulator said it will temporarily ground its Boeing 737 Max 8 fleet while aircraft inspections are carried out to ensure “flight-worthy conditions.” The country’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation has been supervising the operation of the 737 Max 8 since the crash in October.
The Boeing Company said it currently “does not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators” of its 737 Max 8 model.
“We have engaged our customers and regulators on concerns they may have — and would refer you to them to discuss their operations and decisions,” a Boeing spokesperson told ABC News in a statement Monday morning. “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.”
At least eight Americans were among those killed. The U.S. Embassy in Ethiopia said it is “working to determine their identities.”
United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said at least 21 U.N. staff were on board the doomed flight.
“Our colleagues were women and men — junior professionals and seasoned officials — hailing from all corners of the globe and with a wide array of expertise,” Guterres said Monday. “They all had one thing in common — a spirit to serve the people of the world and to make it a better place for us all.”
Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed declared Monday a national day of mourning.
Boeing said it was “deeply saddened” by the crash.
“We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team,” the Chicago-based aircraft manufacturer said in a statement Sunday. “A Boeing technical team will be travelling to the crash site to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.”
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