Several carriers around the world have grounded their B737 Max fleet after Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed en route Nairobi, causing the tragedy of 157 deaths. This is a second fatal crash of the B737 Max in less than five months, after Lion Air flight JT610 came down on 29 October 2018 in Indonesia, killing 189 people. The aircraft is relatively new and has been first flew commercially in 2017.
Ethiopian Airlines grounded its B737 Max fleet right after the crash "until further notice" as "an extra safety precaution". Ethiopian’s decision was first followed by China and Indonesia, then followed by Australia and Singapore, who followed suit banning the use of the plane. So far, 25 companies have put the jet out of use.
Following last October's Lion Air crash in Indonesia, investigators had said the pilots seemed to be struggling with an automated system designed to keep the plane from stalling, a new feature of the jet.
The anti-stall system repeatedly forced the plane's nose down, despite efforts by pilots to correct this, preliminary findings suggested. The Lion Air plane was also new and the accident happened soon after take-off, similar to what happened with Ethiopian’s flight 302. After that accident, Boeing sent an emergency notice to airlines warning them of a problem with the anti-stall system. Although still insisting the airworthiness of its B737 Max, Boeing has said it will release a software patch to the system to deal with the issue.
Boeing’s share values have dropped by 13 percent since the Ethiopian crash. The crash is still being investigated.
Ethiopian is an airline with excellent safety records that has been chosen the best African carrier seven years in a row. In the words of CNN’s business anchor Richard Quest, Ethiopian is “one of those airlines that when you have worries about any other … you always say I’ll take Ethiopian.”
Sources: NY Times, BBC, CNN, Boeing
Image Source: Boeing