ADDIS ABABA – China, Indonesia and Ethiopia became the first countries to halt the operation of Boeing 737 MAX 8 jetliners on Monday, a day after an Ethiopian Airlines aircraft crashed at Addis Ababa International Airport, killing all 157 passengers on board.
Immediately after the announcement by Ethiopia, China and Indonesia of the decision to ground the US assembled aircraft in the three countries, investigators combing through mountains of rabble on the crash site said they had recovered the black box.
The crash on Sunday was the second ill-fated flight involving the model in six months, and it sent questions worldwide about its safety.
Concerns were amplified by the fact that the B737 line is the world’s bestselling modern passenger aircraft.
It is viewed as one of the industry’s most reliable, with about 5 300 of them in operation across airlines.
Aviation statistics show that a B737 jetliner takes off or lands at an airport every 34 seconds.
The discovery of the black box gave a glimpse of hope to a stunned world, which is still seeking answers to the crash.
It should shed light into the cause of the fatal accident.
Another crash involving a Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet occurred only in October when an aircraft operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air went down.
Reuters reports that the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) had directed airlines to suspend flights on the 737 MAX 8, after contacting Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
“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 said, adding the step was in line with its principle of zero tolerance of safety hazards.
The 737 MAX 8 is sometimes referred to as the 737-8.
Ethiopian Airlines said; “Although we don’t yet know the cause of the crash, we had to decide to ground the particular fleet as extra safety precaution”.
Indonesia also said it would temporarily ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft for inspection.
In October, a 737 MAX 8 operated by budget carrier Lion Air crashed 13 minutes after take-off from the Indonesian capital of Jakarta on a domestic flight, killing all 189 on board.
Cayman Airways said it had grounded both of its new 737 MAX 8 jets temporarily too, while India announced a safety review.
Africa’s largest airline has four other 737 MAX 8 planes in operation, and wants to take precaution in case the remaining ones have the same defects that led to Sunday’s crash, according to flight tracking website FlightRadar24.
The Ethiopian Airlines jet bound for Nairobi came down minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa on Sunday.
The victims came from 33 nations and included 22 United Nations’ staff.
In the US, Boeing shares slid almost 10 percent in early trading on Monday, as fears over the crash hit the markets.
Analysts fears that the trend, if maintained throughout normal trading hours on Monday, would be the biggest fall in Boeing’s stock in nearly two decades.
It would stop a surge that had seen the Boeing stock triple in value in just over three years to a record high of $446 last week, according to Reuters. Ethiopia’s parliament declared Monday a day of mourning.