China grounds Boeing 737 MAX after second crash in months


Chinese airlines have been advised to temporarily ground their Boeing 737 MAX planes, after the modern jet suffered a second fatal crash in just five months, local media outlet Caijing reports, citing industry sources.

China’s Civil Aviation Administration has reportedly urged its domestic airlines to temporarily stop operating Boeing’s latest-generation jet, and on many routes the jet has already been replaced with an older-generation 737-800, the publication reports, citing sources in the airline and aviation industry.

Chinese carriers account for about 20 percent of the plane’s sales, with dozens of Boeing 737 Max jets already in operation and many more scheduled for delivery. China Southern Airlines Co. has the biggest fleet, with 16 of the latest aircraft, while Air China Ltd. currently operates 14 Max jets. China Eastern Airlines Corp. has 13.

Boeing 737 MAX faulty anti-stall sensors

Pilots of the Indonesian Lion Air flight desperately fought against a flaw in the packed Boeing 737 as faulty anti-stall sensors repeatedly and automatically sent the plane nosediving before it plunged into the Java Sea, the investigation showed.

The angle-of-attack (AOA) sensors measure how well the plane’s nose is positioned against the oncoming air. During the journey of Lion Air Flight 610, the sensors malfunctioned, automatically pushing the aircraft’s nose down two dozen times in the span of just 10 minutes, the preliminary report of Indonesia’s National Transport Safety Committee (KNKT) found.

Each time the flawed system directed the plane downwards, the pilots had to struggle, manually pushing the nose back up again. “The pilots fought continuously until the end of the flight,” Captain Nurcahyo Utomo of the KNKT said.

The doomed plane suffered the same sensor malfunction during a previous flight, but that time the crew solved the problem by switching the system off early in the trip. The officials noted that the aircraft was “not airworthy.”

Both Canadian and US airlines operate dozens of Boeing 737 MAX, however have not issued a statement in regards to a second crash of a new 737 MAX only few months apart.