Ethiopian Airlines' deadly crash on March 10, 2019, was the second disaster involving a Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in the last five months.
The apparent similarities to the crash of Lion Air in October 2018 has sparked an outcry from US lawmakers as other countries — including China, Britain, Australia, and more — ground the plane pending further investigation.
Here's what we know so far about March 10, 2019's crash and any similarities to the Lion Air disaster so far:
All of the 157 people on board were killed
When the Ethiopian Airlines plane plunged to the ground shortly after takeoff from Addis Ababa en route to Nairobi, all 149 passengers and eight crew were killed.
This photo is said to be the pilot of #ET302 - Yared Getachew (Mulugeta)— Maria Sarungi Tsehai (@MariaSTsehai) March 11, 2019
What a horror trying to get Boeing 737 MAX to respond and stabilize! 💔
Rubani wa ndege #Ethiopianairlines iliyoanguka jana - alipambana kurudisha ndege uwanjani baada ya hitlafu ya ndege. Inasikitisha! pic.twitter.com/K5mlkwyscc
The airline's CEO told journalists that those involved hailed largely from African countries, as well as 18 Canadians, eight Americans, and others from a handful of European countries.
One passenger, who accidentally missed the crashed flight by two minutes, said in a Facebook post that he was "grateful to be alive," despite being angry previously that no staff could help him find his gate.
Boeing, the US-based manufacturer of the 737 Max 8 involved in the crash, said March 12, 2019, it will soon roll out a software update in response to the two crashes.
At the heart of the controversy surrounding the 737 MAX is MCAS or the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation system. To fit the MAX's larger, more fuel-efficient engines, Boeing had to redesign the way it mounts engines on the 737.
This change disrupted the plane's center of gravity and caused the MAX to have a tendency to tip its nose upward during flight, increasing the likelihood of a stall. MCAS is designed to automatically counteract that tendency and point the nose of the plane downward.
Initial reports from the Lion Air investigation indicate that a faulty sensor reading may have triggered MCAS shortly after the flight took off.
Here's the company's full statement:
For the past several months and in the aftermath of Lion Air Flight 610, Boeing has been developing a flight control software enhancement for the 737 MAX, designed to make an already safe aircraft even safer. This includes updates to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) flight control law, pilot displays, operation manuals, and crew training. The enhanced flight control law incorporates angle of attack (AOA) inputs, limits stabilizer trim commands in response to an erroneous angle of attack reading, and provides a limit to the stabilizer command in order to retain elevator authority.
Still, Boeing's statement has done little to calm fears of global air travel regulators around the world.
Major countries have banned the plane
The US' air safety regulator on March 11, 2019, said the plane was still safe to fly. And for now, the Federal Aviation Administration does not appear to be following the rest of the world in grounding the plane.
Boeing 737 MAX stats— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) March 13, 2019
Day: MAX flights tracked
March 03: 1237
March 04: 1251
March 05: 1220
March 06: 1251
March 07: 1256
March 08: 1313
March 09: 1252
March 10: 1257
March 11: 950
March 12: 718
March 13: 111 (until 09:30 UTC)
Currently there are 22 737 MAX aircraft airborne. pic.twitter.com/Mlz5vqAxWg
"External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on Oct. 29, 2018," the FAA said March 11, 2019. "However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions"
A handful of American lawmakers, including at least three senators and a representative, have called on the FAA to ground the plane. Amid those calls, US Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao and her entourage of staff flew on a 737 Max 8 from Austin, Texas back to Washington D.C. March 12, 2019.
"The department and the FAA will not hesitate to take immediate and appropriate action," Chao said, according to CNBC.
Pilots in the United States also reported issues with the plane in the months leading up to March 10, 2019's crash. One pilot said the flight manual was "inadequate and almost criminally insufficient," according to the Dallas Morning News.
Those complaints were made in the Federal Aviation Administration's incident database which allows pilots to report issues about aviation incidents anonymously. They highlighted issues with the Max 8's autopilot system, which had been called into question following the crash of Lion Air Flight 610 in October 2018. That incident also involved a Boeing 737 Max 8 plane.
The crisis is already having a big impact on Boeing's business
Shares of Chicago-based Boeing have fallen more than 12% since the crash on March 10, 2019, as some airlines have reportedly asked to delay the delivery of the 737 Max 8 aircraft they have on order.
The company's order book — aircraft that airlines around the world have agreed to purchase — is overwhelmingly comprised of the plane in question.
"We are not surprised by the negative stock reaction, as the 737 represents the strongest backlog, free cash flow (FCF and potential upside from further rate increases," Ken Hubert, an analyst at Canaccord Genuity, said in a note to clients on March 11, 2019.
"We view the risk as less about near term expenses, but the full year 737 delivery estimates for BA could be impacted. We do not expect BA to slow the 737 pull from suppliers. Moreover, the larger risk is the reputational concern for BA," he continued.
Boeing's plunge also dragged down the Dow Jones industrial average, of which it comprises a large percentage.
CEO Dennis Muilenburg spoke to President Trump on the phone March 12, 2019, the company confirmed to Business Insider. A spokesperson offered no details of their conversation, but refuted the New York Times' claim that the chief executive tried to persuade Trump to not ground the plane like most other countries.
At least one airline, Norwegian, said it will ask Boeing for compensation due to lost revenue from taking the plane out of service.
Airlines could take a hit too
Southwest is the US airline most exposed to the 737 Max 8, according to calculations by Joseph Denardi, an analyst at Stifel.
The 737 MAX comprised 2.2% of Southwest's scheduled available seat miles (ASM) for March 2019, and is projected to grow to 2.6% by June 2019. The airline reportedly said March 12, 2019 that it's "working with Customers individually who wish to rebook their flight to another aircraft type."
United Airlines and American Airlines also operate the plane in the US, where there are 74 of them registered according to the FAA. Around the world, 59 airlines operate 387 of the 737 Max 8 and 9, the agency said.
Airline stocks and other related aerospace companies stock prices were also taking a hit, Markets Insider reported.
What comes next
The "black box" flight data recorder for March 10, 2019's crash was found March 11, 2019, Ethiopian Airlines said in a statement. Investigators from the country, assisted by the US' National Transportation Safety Board, have yet to reach a final conclusion.
Ehtiopian Airlines said March 13, 2019, that it would send the data recorders abroad, possibly to Europe or the US, because the country lacks the capacity to analyze them domestically.
Benjamin Zhang contributed to this report.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.
- Countries that have grounded Boeing 737 Max 8 after Ethiopian crash ›
- Ethiopian crash: flight attendants ask FAA to investigate 737 Max 8 ... ›
- Boeing crash woes set to wipe $21 billion off market cap, dragging ... ›
- Ethiopian Airlines copilot of Flight 302 had just 200 flight hours ... ›
- Ethiopian Airlines flight to Nairobi crashes leaving 157 people dead ... ›