China's aviation regulator said on Monday (Mar 11) it had ordered Chinese airlines to suspend their Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operations by 6pm following a deadly crash of one of the planes in Ethiopia.
An Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX 8 bound for Nairobi crashed minutes after take-off on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board.
Chinese state TV said eight Chinese passengers were aboard Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302, which was carrying 149 passengers and eight crew members.
It was the second crash of the 737 MAX, the latest version of Boeing's workhorse narrow body jet that first entered service in 2017.
In October, a 737 MAX flown by Indonesian budget carrier Lion Air flying from Jakarta on a domestic flight crashed 13 minutes after take-off, killing all 189 passengers and crew on board.
The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) said in a statement it would notify airlines as to when they could resume flying the jets after contacting Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration to ensure flight safety.
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 that the order was in line with its principle of zero-tolerance on safety hazards.
The cause of the Indonesian crash is still being investigated. A preliminary report issued in November, before the cockpit voice recorder was recovered, focused on airline maintenance and training and the response of a Boeing anti-stall system to a recently replaced sensor but did not give a reason for the crash. Chinese airlines have 96 737 MAX jets in service, the state company regulator said on Weibo.