The latest version of Boeing‘s best-selling 737 family has again been thrust into the spotlight after a fatal crash in Ethiopia, months after a deadly crash involving an identical brand-new jet in Indonesia.
A Nairobi-bound Boeing 737 MAX 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed minutes after takeoff from Addis Adaba, killing all 157 on board.
The same model flown by Lion Air crashed off the coast of Indonesia in October, killing all 189 on board.
There are still unanswered questions about the causes of the Lion Air crash, and officials and safety experts said it was too soon to draw links with the Ethiopian incident.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Boeing said it would send a technical team to the crash site to provide assistance.
Boeing’s shares lost 12 percent in the weeks following the Lion Air crash. They slid almost 10 percent in early trading on Monday.
The share move, if maintained through normal trading hours, would be the biggest fall in Boeing’s stock in nearly two decades, halting a surge that has seen it triple in value in just over three years to a record high of $446 last week.
Boeing’s 737 MAX is the newest version of a jet that has been a fixture of passenger travel for decades and the cash cow of the world’s largest aircraft maker, competing against Airbus SE’s A320neo family of single-aisle jetliners.
The decades-old 737 family is considered one of the industry’s most reliable aircraft.
Boeing rolled out the fuel-efficient MAX 8 in 2017 as an update to the already redesigned 50-year-old 737, and had delivered 350 MAX jets out of the total order tally of 5,011 aircraft by the end of January.
Former National Transportation Safety Board chairman Mark Rosenker said the catastrophic crashes of two new airplanes were “highly unusual” and both had broad similarities in that they went down soon after takeoff.
While it is unclear if there is a direct link, “this is now an extraordinary issue” for aviation safety officials to grapple with and will prompt a sweeping investigation to determine if there are common issues, Rosenker said.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co is the biggest operator of the MAX 8, with 31 aircraft, followed by American Airlines Group Inc and Air Canada with 24 each.
Southwest and American said on Sunday they remained fully confident in the aircraft and were closely monitoring the investigation.
Aviation analyst Scott Hamilton cautioned against drawing comparisons between the two crashes, especially before the black box recorders are recovered. Ethiopian has a strong reputation and good safety record, he said in a blog post.
Still, the crash puts fresh pressure on Boeing just days before it had planned an event to debut another aircraft.
Late on Sunday, Boeing said it would postpone the planned ceremonial debut of its 777x wide body aircraft that had been set for Wednesday in Seattle and was to be livestreamed.
The company said it is focused on “supporting” Ethiopian Airlines and “will look for an opportunity to mark the new plane with the world in the near future”
Source – AL Jazeera