China, Indonesia ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleets after Ethiopia crash

China, Indonesia ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleets after Ethiopia crash
Reuters: China and Indonesia grounded their fleets of Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 aircraft on Monday, and investigators recovered the black box from a crash that killed 157 people, the second disaster in less than five months involving the new model.

At the crash site, men in Red Cross jackets and face masks picked through a large crater, putting items in black paper bags. Clothing, boarding passes, serviettes and other personal effects were scattered over the field along with charred bodies and debris from the shattered jet.

The Ethiopian Airlines jet plunged into an arid field minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa for Nairobi on Sunday, killing all on board. The victims came from more than 30 nations and included 22 United Nations’ staff.

The crash follows one of the same aircraft model operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air, which went down in October shortly after take off, killing all 189 people on board.

Boeing’s share price plunged at the prospect that two such crashes in such a short time could reveal flaws in its new plane. The company has already accepted orders for more than 5,000 of the new, high fuel economy planes, which entered service less than two years ago and are set to be the workhorses for airlines around the globe for decades.

The discovery of the black box with both the cockpit voice recorder and digital flight data, reported by Ethiopian state TV, should shed light on the cause of the crash.

Ethiopia’s parliament declared Monday a day of mourning. The dead included aid workers, doctors, professors of literature and botany, a law student, a newly-wed woman, a father soon expecting a child, and a couple who recently had a baby.

In Nairobi, a major hub for aid workers and diplomats in Africa, a summit opened with a moment of silence and tears for the U.N. members killed.

“It is one of the biggest catastrophes we have had in years,” said Michael Moller, U.N. head in Geneva.

The 737 line, which has flown for more than 50 years, is the world’s best selling modern passenger aircraft and viewed as one of the industry’s most reliable.

The new MAX 8 variant, with bigger engines designed to use less fuel, entered service in 2017. By the end of January this year, Boeing had delivered 350 of the new jets to customers, with another 4,661 on order.

Boeing’s shares slid almost 10 percent in early trading on Monday. The move, if maintained through normal trading hours, would be the biggest fall in Boeing’s stock in nearly two decades, halting a surge that has seen it triple in value in just over three years to a record high of $446 last week.