By Stacey Leasca
March 11, 2019

An Ethiopian Airlines flight bound for Nairobi crashed just minutes after takeoff on Sunday, killing all 157 people onboard. The plane carrying the passengers on the doomed flight was a recently acquired Boeing 737 Max 8 model, which is the same aircraft involved in the Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October of last year.

Debris of the crashed airplane of Ethiopia Airlines, near Bishoftu, a town some 60 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 11, 2019.
| Credit: MICHAEL TEWELDE/Getty Images

“Boeing is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a 737 MAX 8 airplane,” Boeing said in a statement on Sunday. “We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team.”

Boeing added it is sending a tehcnical team to the crash site “to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.”

Immediately after the crash, Ethiopian Airlines grounded all of its 737 Max 8 planes out of an abundance of caution. It is too soon to know what caused the crash, however several nations have also taken the step of grounding planes of the same model.

China’s Civil Aviation Administration issued a statement Monday morning requiring its domestic airlines to temporarily ground all Boeing 737 Max 8 jets before 6 p.m. local time, the Washington Postreported. Just a few hours later Indonesia’s domestic airlines also suspended the use of the Boeing 737 Max 8 plane. Next, Cayman Airways made the decision to ground its two 737 Max 8 planes as well.

“While the cause of this sad loss is undetermined at this time, we stand by our commitment to putting the safety of our passengers and crew first by maintaining complete and undoubtable safe operations, and as such, we have taken the decision to suspend operations of both our new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, effective from Monday, March 11, 2019, until more information is received,” Cayman Airways President and CEO Fabian Whorms said in a statement.

A piece of the fuselage of ET Flight 302 can be seen in the foreground as local residents collect debris at the scene where Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed in a wheat field just outside the town of Bishoftu, 62 kilometers southeast of Addis Ababa on March 10, 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Flight 302 was just 6 minutes into its flight to Nairobi, Kenya, when it crashed killing all 157 passengers and crew on board.
| Credit: Jemal Countess/Getty Images

Several more countries are also evaluating the use of 737 Max 8 planes including India, which announced it is reviewing the situation and will issue new safety instructions by Tuesday. According to The Washington Post, Vietnam’s Civil Aviation Authority said it would not license the use of the Max plane in the country pending the results of investigations and remedial measures. Morocco and Mongolia, authorities suspended the operation of Boeing 737 Max 8 planes flying in each country, The Washington Post reported.

In the United States, Southwest Airlines doubled down on the safety of its fleet, sharing in a statement: “Our fleet of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft are operating as planned today and we plan to operate those aircraft going forward.” American Airlines added in its own statement it has “full confidence in the aircraft and our crew members.”