Enter the 737-MAX crash – the second one in 6 months

Sunday at 8.38 AM local time, Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed 6 minutes after takeoff, giving the accident eerie similarities between the crash that occurred, with the same plane model, en route to the island of Bangka (source). These accidents have claimed hundreds of lives.

Authorities across the world are now reacting to what seems to be the last in a small series of crashes of the same plane. China and Ethiopia have grounded their entire fleets of 737-MAX planes and issued a temporary stop for the use of these planes as of Monday the 11th of March 2019. The air traffic authority in China messages that with “the two accidents happening both related to the newly-delivered 737-8 planes during the start/takeoff phases. There are certain similarities between them.” This is the cause of the grounding of the entire lineup (source).

As a result of this crash and the current fallout, the stock has shed nearly 12% of its value as of the time of writing this article. During the Lion Air crash back in 2018, Boeing’s share value dropped almost 12% but has more than recovered since that time. It seems that we may see a repeat performance of this stock at this time. I expect it to drop once more.

At this time we do not know what has happened. We do not know if there are serial technical flaws in the airplane, operator errors or malfunctions that Boeing needs to look into. There are airlines like Norwegian who will continue to fly their planes until more data is available, and there are experts here locally in Europe who go on record with having full confidence in the airplane/model (source).

Airline traffic director Pekka Hanttu, employed by Traficom, the Finnish transport and communication agency, says that it’s very difficult/almost impossible to determine anything, including cause at this point. What is clear at this stage is:

  • Both of the accidents occurred at relatively low altitude
  • The pilots supposedly had no room to react
  • Both accidents show problems with vertical steering/maneuvering, as both accidents show the planes hitting the ground with a high vertical flight speed.
  • Boeing communicated clear instructions for all airline personnel involved with the new 737 MAX after the accident in Indonesia, and it is not as of yet clear if the personnel/pilots in Ethiopia heeded this or had received this.
  • Ethiopian Airlines is not an airline company atypically prone to accidents, with accidents involving fatalities on record in 1988, 1996 and 2010 (source).
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