or the second time in less than six months, a brand-new Boeing aircraft has crashed minutes into a flight.
All 157 people on board the Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa that crashed on Sunday morning have died, the airline has confirmed.
The tragedy follows the Lion Air flight that went down over the Java Sea in late October, killing all 189 people on board.
There is no suggestion yet as to what caused the latest disaster, and no evidence that the two incidents are linked. All that is known, however, is that both flights took place on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 — a new model recently unveiled to great fanfare by the US aviation giant, that saw its first flight less than two years ago.
“At the moment, it seems a coincidence” that both disasters occurred on the same aircraft, according to CNN anchor Richard Quest, who specializes in aviation. “But I’m guaranteeing to you that the authorities will be examining just how close a coincidence, and whether there are common circumstances between the two,” he said.
“Two brand new planes have crashed from two respected airlines,” Quest added. “Ethiopian is a very, very well-run airline. There is no safety issue on Ethiopian Airlines.”
The 737 MAX 8 is one of the latest versions of a jet that was introduced in 1967. More than 10,000 737s have been produced, making it the best-selling jetliner of all time.
In 2017, Boeing temporarily grounded all 737 MAX planes over concerns about a manufacturing quality issue inside its new engines.
Jamie Jewell, a spokesperson for CFM, said at the time that the company’s inspections found “some anomalies in the process” of manufacturing disks for the jet’s turbine. Jewell also stressed that no problems related to the part were seen in the more than 2,000 hours of test flights for the 737 Max.
“Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to temporarily suspend MAX flights. The step is consistent with our priority focus on safety for all who use and fly our products,” the plane maker said in a statement.
The plane that crashed on Sunday morning was delivered to Ethiopian Airlines in November. It was one of five active MAX 8 aircrafts belonging to the airline, and another was on order, according to the website PlaneSpotters, which tracks aircraft orders.
The MAX versions of the 737s are touted for their LEAP jet engines which Boeing says “redefine the future of efficient and environmentally friendly air travel.” Boeing says the 737 MAX jets are 10% to 12% more efficient that their predecessors.
But until an investigation is launched, it is difficult to determine whether the disaster was the result of a failure in the aircraft, human error, or another factor.
“We will not get a final determination for two or three years, but we will get information from the flight recorders — which I’m guessing will be fairly easy to retrieve — in a matter of weeks,” Quest said.
Boeing did not immediately respond to a CNN request for comment regarding the model, but have released a statement saying it is “deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew.” It added that a “Boeing technical team is prepared to provide technical assistance at the request and under the direction of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.”