Boeing has sent specialized teams to the crash site of the Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max jet for an unprecedented mission.
Immediately after takeoff from Bole international airport in Ethiopia, the pilot of the fateful plane had communicated to ground controllers that they were having technical problems.
Air traffic controllers observed that the plane seemed to repeatedly climb and dive before a final plunge.
The cause of the crash largely remains unknown and will take weeks to investigate, as Boeing and the Ethiopian National Transportation Safety Board send teams to the crash site.
at the same time, the crash of Ethiopia’s Boeing Max 737 jet has prompted China to ground its similar planes to begin a detailed investigation into the technicalities of this brand.
Globally, about 10,000 total planes from Boeing’s 737 family are in service, compared with over 8,000 in Airbus’ A320 family.
“There’s a whole lot of questions here and not a lot of answers,” said John Cox, former executive air safety chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association in the United States and now chief executive of Safety Operating Systems, a consulting firm.
Robert Stengel, an expert on flight control systems and a professor of engineering and applied science at Princeton University, said it was not clear whether the rocking trajectory of the Ethiopian jet was caused by a malfunctioning control system or pilots trying to fly the plane manually while distracted by some other, as yet unknown, emergency.
Many airlines rely on these kinds of planes as linchpins of their fleets. They are designed to efficiently serve short- and medium-haul routes (like New York to Miami or Los Angeles), and carry about 200 passengers.
Boeing’s response to its rival’s move was a more efficient engine, but the Max engine was bigger than the earlier versions.
To address this engineering challenge, Boeing updated the software for the flight control system. After the Lion Air crash, some US aviation authorities said that the change had not been adequately explained to pilots.