China Has Grounded Its Fleet Of 737 MAX 8s While Aus Still Has 30 On Order

Ethiopian Airlines

Thirty of the same aircraft involved in the Ethiopian Airlines crash over the weekend have been ordered for an Australian carrier. All 157 people on board the flight were killed in the accident.

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Virgin Australia has thirty of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes on order, along with another ten of its larger variant, the MAX 10. The first MAX 8 is expected to arrive in the country later this year.

Conversely, Bloomberg reports that China has temporarily grounded its fleet of 737 MAX 8s, citing its “zero tolerance for safety hazards and strict control of safety risks,” a notice issued by China’s Civil Aviation Authority said. A Lion Air MAX 8 was also involved in a fatal crash over the Java Sea in October which killed all 189 of its passengers and crew.

It’s thought that the Lion Air flight went down due to a new feature in the aircraft which malfunctioned. The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) in the MAX 8 is designed to pull the nose of the plane downward automatically if data indicates it’s at risk of stalling. In this case, the data suggested the aircraft’s nose was pointed higher than it should have been and was wrongly pulled down.

A spokeswoman from Virgin Australia has told that it’s too early to comment on the most recent crash, as has Strategic Aviation Solutions chairman, Neil Hansford. An investigation into the crash is still underway and will likely focus on the MAX 8’s MCAS feature.

350 MAX planes have been delivered to airlines across the world, with a further 4,661 on order. A spokesperson for Australia’s largest airline, Qantas, has said that it doesn’t operate any MAX planes, nor does it have any on order.