A worldwide investigation into the safety of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft is underway after an Ethiopian Airlines operated plane crashed on the weekend killing 157 people. The only month early a Lion Air operated Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed in Indonesia killing all 189 passengers and crew.
The Boeing 737 MAX 8 is one of the Boeings most in-demand aircraft, but these two recent and devastating accidents have caused their safety into question. China, Germany, and France, India and Hong Kong among other regions have already grounded all Boeing 737 MAX 8s in the country, but other airlines continue to fly the planes, particularly in the U.S.
A recent analysis by the New York Times found that in the U.S, Southwest and American airlines are the top users of the Boeing 737 MAX 8. Southwest operates 34 models and American has 24 of the planes in their fleets.
Check before you fly
If you are worried that your future travel involves, flying on a Boeing 737 MAX 8 there is a way to check the model of the aircraft you'll fly, before you book a flight. For example, when booking with Southwest you can find all the information about the plane you’ll fly on by clicking on the "flight number" link.
If you are flying American the flight information including the planning model is listed under the "Details" link.
The reason for the Lion Air flight is still unclear, an investigation into the crash is continuing. Similarly, the Ethiopian Airline crash is just at the beginning of its investigation.
Boeing stands by planes
Boeing has released a statement standing by the safety of its planes and reassuring customers they will work fully with all relevant authorities to find the cause of the two crashes.
“Safety is Boeing’s number one priority, and we have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX. We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets. We’ll continue to engage with them to ensure they have the information needed to have confidence in operating their fleets. The United States Federal Aviation Administration is not mandating any further action at this time, and based on the information currently available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators."
In Ethiopia, investigators are combing the crash site for clues as to why the plane went down. Both black boxes were recovered, though early reports suggest that one suffered slight damage on its fall to the ground.
It is too early for investigators to say exactly what went wrong but the Ethiopia accident does share similarities to the Indonesian crash last year. In both cases, the accidents happened minutes after takeoff and after the crew requested permission to return to the airport.
In the Indonesia crash, Indonesian and American aviation authorities suggest that the culprit may have been updated Boeing software meant to prevent a stall. Pilots unions claimed that the change in the flight control system had not been explained to pilots.