(Reuters) – More than 300 Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 passenger jets around the world have been taken out of service following two fatal crashes over the past five months in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed almost 350 people combined.
Candle flames burn during a commemoration ceremony for the victims at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town Bishoftu, near Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 14, 2019. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri
The causes of both crashes are still under investigation. One of the biggest unanswered questions: Was the plane’s software to blame?
WHAT WE KNOW
– Boeing has stopped delivery of all new MAX jets to its customers.
– Satellite data gathered from the Ethiopian Airlines flight and evidence from the crash site showed similarities with the accident in Indonesia, which prompted the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to ground all Boeing MAX jets in service.
– The pilot of the Ethiopian Airlines flight had reported internal control problems and received permission to return.
– Technical analysis of the black boxes from the crashed Ethiopian Airlines jet is set for Friday in France. It will take several days to complete the first readings from the boxes, French aviation officials said. The U.S. National Transportation Safety Board is sending investigators to assist.
– Following the Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October, Boeing said it was preparing a software upgrade for the jets. After the Ethiopia crash, the company said it would deploy that upgrade across the fleet “in the coming weeks.”
– Boeing maintains its new, fuel-efficient jets are safe, but supported the FAA decision to ground them. Fearing a financial hit and brand damage, investors have wiped about $26 billion off the company’s market value.
– U.S. lawmakers said the planes could be grounded for “weeks” to upgrade the software and install it in every plane.
– No lawsuits have yet been filed since the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, but some plaintiffs’ lawyers said they expect that Boeing will be sued in the United States.
– Investigators are expected to release a preliminary report based on information they glean from the data and cockpit recordings captured by the two black boxes.
– A decision will be made by countries about whether and when to lift the grounding of the Boeing jets based on that information.
Compiled by Ben Klayman and Sayantani Ghosh; Editing by Bill Rigby and Stephen Coates