The crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 in Ethiopia marks the second fatal crash of the new model plane in fewer than six months. The most recent crash killed all 157 people on board, and a previous crash near Indonesia last October claimed the lives of 189.

The planes involved were both Boeing 737 MAX 8’s, an updated version of the popular 737 that claimed to have increased fuel efficiency. 

The crashes also shared multiple characteristics. In both flights, an error occurred just after take-off and the pilots attempted to return to the airport after a few minutes of flight time.

With the two crashes being similar and in the same model of planes, many question whether the Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes are safe.

So far, there’s no definitive link between the planes and the crashes. Multiple investigations are continuing to try and determine what the causes were and if they were in any way due to the same issue. 

737 MAX 8 IN THE U.S.

54 different carriers fly an estimated 350 of the 737 MAX's, but only two U.S. companies currently fly the planes. 

According to FAA and Boeing reports, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines are the only domestic carriers currently using 737 MAX 8’s. 

American Airlines currently operates at least 24 of the planes and said in a statement following Sunday’s crash that they have no plans to ground them at this moment.

“American Airlines extends our condolences to the families and friends of those on board Ethiopian Airlines flight 302. We will closely monitor the investigation via Boeing and the National Transportation Safety Board,” the airline said

Southwest Airlines, which operates at least 31 of the planes, also said they would not be grounding any of them.

“Our heart goes out to the families and loved ones of the passengers and Employees on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.  As Southwest operates a fleet of 31 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft (as of Dec. 31, 2018), we have been in contact with Boeing and will continue to stay close to the investigation as it progresses.  We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of our fleet of more than 750 Boeing aircraft,” they said. 

Boeing’s page on the 737 MAX models lists a number of other carriers that operate or have purchased the planes. 

WHO HAS GROUNDED THE PLANES?

So far, following the crashes, seven carriers have grounded the 737 MAX 8’s.were Ethiopian Airlines, Cayman Airways, Singapore's SilkAir, Brazil's Gol Airlines,India's Jet Airways, Mexico's Aeromexico, South Korea's Eastar Jet, and Turkish Airlines have all grounded the 737 MAX 8 planes.

Several governments have also closed their airspace to the 737 MAX 8. Australia announced a temporary ban on the flights, although none of its airlines currently operate them. Malaysia's Civil Aviation Authority have also announced that foreign airlines are banned from flying the plane in the country. Singapore also closed its airspace in addition to grounding the plane SilkAir.

Additionally, two governments have grounded all of the 737 MAX 8’s. China’s Civil Aviation Administration of China, Oman's Public Authority for Civil Aviation and Indonesia’s “Directorate General of Air Transportation,” made country-wide declarations that they would be grounding all of the 737 MAX 8’s. 

The European Aviation Safety Agency also issued a directive grounding all 737 MAX 8's as well as 737 9 models throughout the entire continent.

“Based on all available information, EASA considers that further actions may be necessary to ensure the continued airworthiness of the two affected models.”

As for the U.S., the FAA said that they are working with Ethiopian officials and announced they would be issuing a “continued airworthiness notification to the international community.”

SUMMARY

There have been two deadly crashes of the Boeing 737 Max 8’s in the last 6 months. At least seven countries and all of Europe have grounded the planes following investigations, however, the U.S. has not. A definitive cause for these crashes has not been found yet.