These 3 questions don’t yet have answers following Boeing MAX 8 crash in Ethiopia – USA TODAY
A Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed in Ethiopia killing everyone on board. The crash of the Ethiopian Airlines plane marks the second deadliest accident involving a Boeing 737 in the past five months. So is there a problem with this particular model?
Two days after an Ethiopian Airlines flight plowed into the ground after takeoff from Addis Ababa, killing all 157 people aboard, international investigators are still searching for answers.Â
Officials know the 4-month-old Boeing 737Â MAX 8 plane crashed six minutes into its flight to Nairobi on Sunday morningÂ after its pilot, who hadÂ more than 8,000 hours of flight experience, issued a distress call. The airline said crews did aÂ “rigorous” maintenance check ofÂ the plane on Feb. 4.
The tragedy comes less than five months afterÂ aÂ Lion Air plane of the same modelÂ crashed into the Java Sea 12 minutes after departing from Jakarta, Indonesia, killing all 189Â passengers and crew.
Debuting in 2017, 74 MAX 8’s fly in the U.S. and 387 flyÂ worldwide.Â Airlines have ordered 4,661 more of the planes â the newest version of the 737 and best-selling airliner ever.Â
A team of National Safety Transportation Safety Board investigators are set to arrive at the crash site early Tuesday, said the U.S. ambassador to Ethiopia.
Here are three unanswered questions:
Why did the plane crash?
We’ll know soon sinceÂ officials have recovered the black box voice and data recorders.
âThey already have the black boxes and they will be able to read them in the next 48 hours,â said Michael Barr, an aviation safety expert who instructs at the University of Southern Californiaâs Viterbi School of Engineering. âItâs going to be pretty quick.â
In the Lion Air investigation, it took officials one month to announce the plane was not airworthy on a flight the day before it crashed. InvestigatorsÂ determinedÂ an automatic safety feature repeatedly pulled the plane’s nose down as the pilots struggled to control the plane.
The Air Line Pilots Association, which represents more than 61,000 pilots at 33 airlines, warnedÂ against jumping to conclusions.
âAs the various parties responsible for this investigation begin their work, we caution against speculation about what may have caused this tragic accident,â the organization said in a statement. âALPA stands ready, through the International Federation of Air Line Pilotsâ Associations, to assist the international aviation community in every way possible with the shared goal of advancing a safer air transportation system around the globe.â
Will the U.S. ground the plane model?
Some experts and legislators have called upon regulators to ground all MAX 8 planes as a precaution, but airlines operating the model expressed confidence Monday in their fleets.
Southwest Airlines, which operates 34 of the planes,Â said on Twitter thatÂ the airline had completed 31,000 flights using the model and planned to move forward with them.Â American Airlines, which has 22 of the planes, doesn’t plan to ground them, either, even as the union representing its flight attendants issued a bulletin detailing its concerns.
Boeing 737 Max: What you should know if you’re booked on a flight
U.S. senators Dianne Feinstein, D-California, andÂ Richard Blumenthal, D-Connecticut, called on theÂ Federal Aviation AdministrationÂ and the airline industry to take precautionary measures.Â
âUntil the cause of the crash is known and itâs clear that similar risks arenât present in the domestic fleet, I believe all Boeing 737 MAXÂ 8 series aircraft operating in the United States should be temporarily grounded,â Feinstein wrote. âThis aircraft model represents only a small fraction of the domestic fleet, and several other countries have already taken this important step, including China and Indonesia.â
Mexican airline Aeromexico andÂ Brazilâs Gol AirlinesÂ announced Monday night that they would suspend use of MAX 8 airplanes. And, early Tuesday,Â Indiaâs Jet Airways announced it was grounding its five MAXÂ 8 planes.
U.S. Secretary of TransportationÂ ElaineÂ Chao said the department is monitoring the investigation, stressing that “safety is our first priority.”
“I want travelers to be assured and that we are taking this seriously and monitoring latest developments,”Â ChaoÂ said in a statement.
Who are the victims?Â
Investigators are still identifying the victims, including 149 passengers and eight crew members.Â The dead includeÂ at least 21 United NationsÂ staff members along with others who worked with the organization, according toÂ U.N.Â Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
Among the eight Americans who died were brothers from California,Â Melvin and Bennett Riffel. The Redding residentsÂ were on vacation and visitedÂ Australia and Mogadishu before traveling to Africa.Â
Jake Mangas, a friend of the Riffel family, said Melvin was expecting to become a father in the spring.
“Our family is devastated for Ike and Susan (the brothers’ parents)Â and certainly for Melvin’s wife, Brittney,” Mangas said.Â “They are wonderful, faith-filled people and if there is any encouragement to me, it’s in this difficult circumstance,Â I know they are surrounded by a community that loves them very much.”
A third-year Georgetown Law student was also lost.Â CedricÂ Asiavugwa was heading to Nairobi after his fiance’s mother died, according to the university.
Contributing:Â David Benda, Redding Record Searchlight; The Associated PressÂ