Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes will remain grounded until security clearance: China

China said on Tuesday that Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes will not be allowed to fly until their security is guaranteed, as it ruled out any politics behind its decision to ground nearly 100 such aircraft after the deadly Ethiopian Airlines crash.

China’s civil aviation regulator on Monday ordered domestic carriers to ground all Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes, citing flight safety, a day after an aircraft of similar model operated by the Ethiopian Airlines crashed in Addis Ababa killing all 157 passengers and crew, including 10 Indians and Indian-origin Canadians.

The crash of Ethiopian Airlines plane came five months after another Boeing 737 MAX 8 of Lion Air crashed in Indonesia that killed 189 passengers and crew. Reports said there were similarities between the Ethiopian and Indonesian air crashes as they both occurred during take-off, involving new aircraft that had just been delivered. Apart from China, Indonesia and Ethiopia have also ordered the airlines to ground their Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes.

“As for China, the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC has said that they will stay in touch with the US and Boeing,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang told a media briefing here.

After guaranteeing the security of the aircraft, they will resume operations. So we don’t have a time table yet. “Only after we confirm that there is no risk for security can we resume their operation. It is shows our sense of responsibility for passenger safety,” he said.

In a bid to rule out any politics behind China’s decision, Lu pointed to several other countries and airlines that have grounded the particular aircraft after Sunday’s accident due to safety concerns. “First I want to emphasise not only the CAAC but also many countries in the world and regions are grounding the commercial operations of this aircraft after the accident,” he said. China and the US, the world’s two largest economies, are locked in a trade war since Trump imposed heavy tariffs on imported steel and aluminium items from China in March last year, a move that sparked fears of a global trade war.

Trump imposed tariff hikes of up to 25 per cent on USD 250 billion of Chinese goods. In response, China imposed tit-for-tat tariffs on USD 110 billion of American goods.

Top trade officials from America and China are holding talks to negotiate a comprehensive trade deal.