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Indonesia grounded its Boeing 737 MAX-8 fleets, while investigators scan the black box from a crash in Ethiopia that killed 157 people. It’s the second disaster involving that airplane model in just six months. A Boeing 737 MAX jet run by Indonesia’s Lion Air went down in October killing all 189 passengers. There is no evidence yet whether the two crashes are linked.
The Ethiopian Airlines jet bound for Nairobi came down minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa on Sunday, killing all on board. The victims came from 33 nations. Preliminary reports say that the plane dove steeply and then rose steeply, until it no longer transmitted a signal. The Lion Air flight in Indonesia also experienced a steep plunge.
China also ordered its airlines to suspend operations of their 737 MAX-8 jets. The move came after Britain, Germany, India and France joined a wave of suspensions of the aircraft in the wake of Sunday’s crash. Pressure is mounting on the United States to follow suit.
Boeing, the world’s biggest planemaker, which has seen billions of dollars wiped off its market value, said it understood the countries’ actions but retained “full confidence” in the 737 MAX and had safety as its priority.
The new variant of the 737, the world’s most-sold modern passenger aircraft, is viewed as the likely workhorse for global airlines for decades and another 4,661 are on order. Over 40 percent of the MAX fleet has been grounded, Flightglobal said, though many airlines still use older jets.
Indonesian investigators released a report that described a battle between the pilots of Lion Air flight JT610 and an automated anti-stall system on the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft that continually forced the plane downward in reaction to incorrect flight data. Less than 15 minutes after the flight took off from Jakarta on Oct. 29, the plane crashed in the Java Sea, killing all 189 people on board.
A week after the crash in Indonesia, Boeing put out a bulletin advising airline operators on how to deal with erroneous sensor information that would lead to “uncommanded nose down” maneuvers, while the FAA ordered flight manuals to be updated with the process to follow in such a situation. Boeing has said that the aircraft is safe, and that it is working with regulators and investigators to understand the factors leading up to the crash.