• The newest version of Boeing’s most popular jet is again under scrutiny after a deadly crash on Sunday, leading airlines around the world to ground their fleets’ 737 Max 8 planes.
• China’s Civil Aviation Administration was first to order its airlines on Monday morning to ground all of the country’s 96 aircraft in operation. Ethiopian Airlines, which operated the flight on Sunday, later followed.
• A Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after takeoff on Sunday, killing all 157 people on board. A wtiness described seeing the plane smoking, “swerving and dipping.” The circumstances were similar to an October crash in Indonesia that killed 189 people.
China grounds all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft
China ordered its airlines on Monday to ground all 96 of the aircraft that they operate.
The Chinese aviation regulator said in its announcement that it had notified Chinese air carriers they had until 6 p.m. local time to take the planes out of service.
Flight tracking websites showed that Chinese airlines were substituting Boeing 737-800s on Monday morning on routes where they had previously operated a Boeing 737 Max 8.
China’s main airlines are among the biggest users so far of the new Boeing jets, having taken delivery of most of the planes they have ordered. By contrast, many other carriers, often in slower-growing markets than China’s, have taken delivery of only a small fraction of their orders for the Boeing 737 Max 8.
Ethiopian Airlines takes 737 Max planes out of operation
Ethiopian Airlines officials said on Monday they would ground all Boeing 737 Max planes in their country following the crash on Sunday of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.
The airline has five Boeing 737 Max planes in its fleet, but it was unclear how many are model 8 jets.
The plane that crashed was flying between Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and Nairobi, Kenya.
Also on Monday, Cayman Airways said it was temporarily grounding its two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes.
Plane was smoking and swerving before crash, witness says
An eyewitness described watching Flight 302 “swerving and dipping” before crashing outside Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on Sunday.
“I was in the mountain nearby when I saw the plane reach the mountain before turning around with a lot of smoke coming from the back and then crashed at this site,” Gebeyehu Fikadu, 25, told CNN.
“It crashed with a large boom. When it crashed luggage and clothes came burning down,” he told the network. “Before it crashed the plane was swerving and dipping with a lot of smoke coming from the back and also making a very loud unpleasant sound before hitting the ground.”
Several carriers stick by Boeing — for now
Several airlines indicated on Monday that they would not ground their Boeing 737 Max jets, or, in some cases, had no plans to cancel orders.
SpiceJet, a low-cost Indian airline, said that it will continue flying the planes while it awaits guidance from Indian air safety regulators.
The airline has 13 Boeing 737 Max 8 planes it uses for international and domestic flights and has more than 100 on order.
Jet Airways, another Indian carrier, has nine Max 8 models in its fleet, but it has not flown them recently, according to FlightRadar24. The airline is in severe financial distress and at least one-third of its aircraft have been grounded because of lack of funds or repossession by lessors.
In South Korea, Eastar Jet, which operates two Max 8 planes, said it had no plans to ground the jets.
Fiji Airways said it would keep flying its two Max 8 planes and had full confidence in their airworthiness.
And SilkAir, a subsidiary of Singapore Airlines, said that it would keep its six 737 Max 8 planes in the air.
Victims of crash came from around the world
Black body bags were spread across the red sands near Bishoftu, Ethiopia, on Monday as word of the crash traveled to the families of the 157 victims, who were from at least 35 countries.
Investigators have yet to locate the flight data recorder, the so-called black box, which they hope will shed light on what brought down a new plane on a clear, sunny day.
A list of the dead released by Ethiopian Airlines included passengers from China, the United States, Saudi Arabia, Nepal, Israel, India and Somalia. Kenya lost 32 citizens. Canada lost 18.
The flight was traveling from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Nairobi, Kenya. Many of the victims worked for the United Nations and were set to attend a conference on the environment in Nairobi on Monday.
Investors watch Boeing stock price
Boeing shares trading in Germany signaled a rough day for the aerospace giant on Wall Street when trading there opens later Monday. Shares of Boeing fell more than 7 percent in the stock market in Stuttgart on Monday.
Whatever hit Boeing’s shares take will weigh heavily on the Dow Jones industrial average, which in recent years has been lifted by Boeing’s success.
Shares of Boeing have tripled since the presidential election in 2016, making it the highest-priced stock in the Dow. From Nov. 8, 2016, through Friday, the Dow added more than 7,000 points, and Boeing’s rise accounted for nearly 30 percent of its gain.
Richard Aboulafia, an aviation analyst at the Teal Group, cautioned against reading too much into the immediate reaction in Boeing’s shares. “I’ve learned from bitter experience not to look at the stock prices in the aftermath of a crash,” he said. “It’s just all over the place.” Mr. Aboulafia also predicted that any pullback was likely to be a short dip, given the company’s recent strength.
At the close of trading on Friday, Boeing was valued at nearly $239 billion, with a stock price above $422 a share. The company, which employs about 150,000 people, took in just over $100 billion in 2018, with profit for the year topping $10 billion.
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