Boeing 737 MAX groundings begin

After the tragic loss of an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX that has reignited the heat around the aircraft, airlines are starting to come forward in stating their intentions to ground their 737 MAX fleets.

The first to take part was China, with the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) sending out a notification to airlines stating all 737 MAX operations are to be halted by 6:00pm local time, with a resumption of operations only beginning once Boeing and investigators can confirm the safety of the aircraft.

A blanket grounding in China is a further blow to Boeing’s reputation – and a potential threat to the Chicago-based plane-maker’s finances.

Chinese carriers accounted for about 20 per cent of 737 MAX deliveries worldwide through January, according to the company’s website.

China Southern Airlines has 16 of the aircraft, with another 34 on order, according to data through January on Boeing’s website. China Eastern Airlines has 13, while Air China has 14, Boeing says.

Other Chinese airlines that have bought the MAX include Hainan Airlines, Shenzhen Airlines, 9 Air, Xiamen Airlines and Shandong Airlines.

According to Bloomberg Intelligence estimates,

The single-aisle plane accounts for almost one-third of Boeing’s operating profit and is poised to generate about US$30 billion in annual revenue as factory output rises to a 57-jet monthly pace this year

Meanwhile, in Indonesia, Garuda Indonesia carried out additional inspections on its Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

“We continuously run (an) Extra Inspection Procedure on several systems that may possibly cause an accident,”

said Garuda Indonesia president director I. Gusti Ngurah Askhara Danadiputra in a statement on Sunday.

Inspection of the airspeed and altitude system, flight control system, and stall management system revealed no faults and they were in good condition.

“We have instantly coordinated the matter with Transportation Ministry’s Airworthiness and Aircraft Operation Directorate (DKUPPU) for further prevention efforts,” Mr Ashkara said.

The disaster in Ethiopia followed the crash of a Lion Air 737 Max into the Java Sea off the coast of Indonesia on Oct 29. A preliminary report into that disaster, which killed 189 passengers and crew, indicated that pilots struggled to maintain control following an equipment malfunction.

Indonesia’s transportation safety committee said on Monday it will discuss the possibility of grounding Boeing 737 Max jets operated by the nation’s airlines.

Singapore Airlines Ltd, whose regional arm SilkAir operates the 737 MAX, said it was monitoring the situation closely, but its planes continued to operate as scheduled.

Jet Airways India and SpiceJet, two Indian airlines that use the 737 MAX jet, and the country’s regulators have asked Boeing for information following the Ethiopia crash.

Cayman Airways, the flag carrier airline of the Cayman Islands, says it is suspending operations of both its Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, effective Monday, “until more information is received”.

Boeing earlier said it was preparing to send a technical team to assist the accident investigation of the Ethiopian Airlines plane, which was delivered new in November to Africa’s biggest carrier.


Update (March 12th, 6:47am GMT) 

More carriers have now grounded the 737 MAX aircraft include: Ethiopian Airlines, Aeromexico, GOL, Silk Air, Royal Air Maroc and Comair.

Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX involved in fatal crash

BREAKING: Lion Air Boeing 737 crashes into sea