China Orders Airlines to Ground All Boeing 737 Max 8 Aircraft – The New York Times

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 so far. 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.

Separately, Boeing said it was postponing the external debut of its 777X plane, which had been planned for Wednesday. The company took the action in a statement in which it said it was “deeply saddened” by the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident.

On a commercial level, China’s aviation sector could actually benefit from the tragedies in Indonesia and Ethiopia. A government-owned company in Shanghai has begun doing flight tests of a Chinese-made alternative to the Boeing 737, called the Comac C919. The C919 is the cornerstone of China’s effort to build a commercial aviation competitor to Boeing and Airbus.

The C919 has already attracted hundreds of orders from air carriers in China’s state-controlled airline industry. But China has struggled to find overseas buyers beyond securing a handful of orders from tiny airlines in impoverished countries that are heavily dependent on Chinese aid.

Overseas buyers are interested in the C919’s safety performance as the fleet rolls out, although they have also been concerned by reports that the plane is considerably less fuel efficient than the Boeing or Airbus rivals.

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