Skip to main content

Boeing likely to face new questions after another 737 crash

  • Empty

    FILE- In this Nov. 14, 2018, file photo Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes are parked near Boeing Co.’s 737 assembly facility in Renton, Wash. Investigators were rushing to the scene of a devastating plane crash in Ethiopia on Sunday, March 10, 2019, an accident that could renew safety questions about the newest version of Boeing’s popular 737 airliner. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Published March 10. 2019 05:50PM

Sunday’s devastating plane crash in Ethiopia could renew safety questions about the newest version of Boeing’s popular 737 airliner.

The Boeing 737 Max 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after taking off from the capital of Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people on board.

The plane was new. The weather was clear. Yet something was wrong, and the pilots tried to return to the airport. They never made it.

In those circumstances, the accident is eerily similar to an October crash in which a 737 Max 8 flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 people on the plane. But safety experts cautioned against quickly drawing too many parallels between the two crashes.

William Waldock, an aviation-safety professor at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, said suspicion will be raised because the same type of plane appeared to crash the same way — a fatal nosedive that left wreckage in tiny pieces.

“Investigators are not big believers in coincidence,” he said.

Waldock said Boeing will look more closely at the flight-management system and automation on the Max. But he noted that it is very early, and more will be known after investigators find and analyze the Ethiopian plane’s black boxes.

Alan Diehl, a former National Transportation Safety Board investigator, said the similarities included both crews encountering a problem shortly after takeoff, and reports of large variations in vertical speed during ascent, “clearly suggesting a potential controllability problem” with the Ethiopian jetliner.

But there are many possible explanations, Diehl said, including engine problems, pilot error, weight load, sabotage or bird strikes. He said Ethiopian has a good reputation, but investigators will look into the plane’s maintenance, especially since that may have been an issue in the Lion Air investigation.

By contrast, the Ethiopian Airlines CEO told reporters that a maintenance check-up did not find any problems with the plane before Sunday’s flight, “so it is hard to see any parallels with the Lion Air crash yet,” said Harro Ranter, founder of the Aviation Safety Network, which compiles information about accidents worldwide.

“I do hope though that people will wait for the first results of the investigation instead of jumping to conclusions based on the very little facts that we know so far,” he said.

Boeing representatives did not immediately respond for comment. The company tweeted that it was “deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew” on the Ethiopian Airlines Max airplane.

The Chicago-based company said it would send a technical to the crash site to help Ethiopian and U.S. investigators.

A spokesman for the NTSB said the U.S. agency was sending a team of four to assist Ethiopian authorities. Boeing and the U.S. investigative agency are also involved in the Lion Air probe.

Indonesian investigators have not stated a cause for the Lion Air crash, but they are examining whether faulty readings from a sensor might have triggered an automatic nose-down command to the plane, which the Lion Air pilots fought unsuccessfully to overcome. The automated system kicks in if sensors indicate that a plane is about to lose lift, or go into an aerodynamic stall. Gaining speed by diving can prevent a stall.

The Lion Air plane’s flight data recorder showed problems with an airspeed indicator on four flights, although the airline initially said the problem was fixed.

Days after the Oct. 29 accident, Boeing sent a notice to airlines that faulty information from a sensor could cause the plane to automatically point the nose down. The notice reminded pilots of the procedure for handling such a situation, which is to disable the system causing the automatic nose-down movements.

Pilots at some airlines, however, including American and Southwest, protested that they were not fully informed about the new system. Boeing Chairman and CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in December that the Max is a safe plane, and that Boeing did not withhold operating details from airlines and pilots.

Diehl, the former NTSB investigator, said the Ethiopian Airlines pilots should have been aware of that issue from press coverage of the Lion Air crash.

The 737 is the best-selling airliner in history, and the Max is the newest version of it, with more fuel-efficient engines. The Max is a central part of Boeing’s strategy to compete with European rival Airbus.

Boeing has delivered about 350 737 Max planes and has orders for more than 5,000. It is already in use by many airlines including American, United and Southwest.

The Lion Air incident does not seem to have harmed Boeing’s ability to sell the Max. Boeing’s stock fell nearly 7 percent on the day of the Lion Air crash. Since then it has soared 26 percent higher, compared with a 4 percent gain in the Standard & Poor’s 500 index.


David Koenig can be reached at

Well thank God! Their stock is back up. The CEO gets a big fat bonus this year. Who cares about the people that get killed in their flying tin cans? Embraer Jets aren't dropping out of the sky... Brazilian made! Trump's MAGA...
Rambo rant to follow. Stay tuned...
RUK, thanks for the heartwarming introduction. I am humbled that you want to learn from my posts. Boeing is a great American company since 1916 (I believe). This is my forte, since I flew Boeing (McDonnell Douglas) products in “inhospitable areas”...a couple years ago. Boeing is very safety conscious. A common industry saying is “if it ain’t Boeing, it ain’t going.” The NTSB will have a detailed investigation even on foreign lands (unless permission is denied-never) because the US made the airplane. As for Embraer...they are all right. They have a factory that just opened in Melbourne, FL making the Legacy 450/500. Embraer is the “Jungle Jet”, from Brazil. 3 of my “old Squadron buddies” fly them. They are like Fiats. Quality is getting better. Check out video of an E-145 tail falling off. Thank God it was on the ground when it happened. Incidentally, Embraer built a US factory to take advantage of our great economy now. Flying is safe! MAGA! RUK, you ARE coming around!
Rambo is trying to woo me again. Sick, sick Republicans. They're not even loyal in their sick predilections.
Poor jilted Mike Meyers. I can't blame you for trying to get with a real man. But, sorry I'm not a sick piece of filth like you. Go back to Mike.
In your head 🎵🎶 in your head🎵🎶
Alpha Mike Foxtrot
RUK, here we go again with the low intellect insults. Time and time again you show no respect for yourself or others. Keep it up! Your ignorance is on full display. You never are able to add intellectual points for discussion,so, you do what is instinct for the “empty headed”, you insult. Be intellectually honest. You have Trump Derangement Syndrome. You are not President. Suffer in that little head of yours...6 more years...24/7...365. Too bad for you. MAGA!
"Full display" lol. No one knows who i am, where I live or work. Your point is mute. But I sure have got you yankin on the bars of your cage like a frustrated little monkey. Maybe that is a display with which you should be concerned
RUK you don’t even know who “i am”. Cap next time. You are a condescending low intellect bully. Now, you even insult monkeys. What is wrong with monkeys? I could teach a monkey to write better than a week. You make a fool of yourself with your hatefulness. Monkeys even realize it. Remember, you owe intellectual honesty to yourself, your family, your country, and your God. Clean up your dirty act. Now, eat a banana and shut the RUK up.
Shoot me tough guy! What are you going to do, report me like the little Trump sissy boy you are? You're just another loud mouthed dumb-ass hiding in the shadows.
Hi RUK! 3 separate posts? Fragmented thought pattern today? That indicates weakness. Be careful, especially with your “sensitivities”. You wouldn’t want to have another nervous breakdown, right? Try to concentrate harder. Trump Derangement Syndrome on you brudda! Newsflash: reality & you are far apart. Don’t be a hater! It’s OK to be weak. Republicans will carry you. Republicans love you. Republicans all wish you a good day. Clean up your dirty act! Name calling is not nice!

Classified Ads

Event Calendar


October 2019


Upcoming Events

Twitter Feed