By Stacey Leasca
March 11, 2019

On Sunday, an Ethiopian Airlines flight bound for Nairobi crashed just minutes after taking off, killing all 157 people on board. The plane was a recently acquired Boeing 737 Max 8 model, which is the same aircraft involved in the Lion Air crash in Indonesia in October 2018. Here’s everything we know so far about the ongoing investigation. 

Rescuers work beside the wreckage of an Ethiopian Airlines' aircraft at the crash site, some 50 km east of Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, on March 10, 2019. All 157 people aboard Ethiopian Airlines flight were confirmed dead as Africa's fastest growing airline witnessed the worst-ever incident in its history. The incident on Sunday, which involved a Boeing 737-800 MAX, occurred a few minutes after the aircraft took off from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport to Nairobi, Kenya. It crashed around Bishoftu town, the airline said.
Xinhua News Agency/Getty Images

The flight’s black box was found.

The plane’s two data recorders — Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) — were quickly found at the crash site on Monday, CNN reported. Though it’s unclear what will be found on the recorders, flight data appears to show the plane may have struggled to keep a stable speed quickly following takeoff. The pilot, The New York Times reported, sent out a distress call during the plane’s ascent and was cleared to return to the airport before the crash. 

“The pilot mentioned he had difficulty and he wanted to return, so he was given clearance to Addis,” Ethio­pian Airlines’ chief executive, Tewolde GebreMariam, told reporters. “It is a brand new airplane, it had no technical remarks and was flown by a senior pilot, and there is no cause we can see at this time.” 

People stand near collected debris at the crash site of Ethiopia Airlines near Bishoftu, a town some 60 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 11, 2019.
MICHAEL TEWELDE/Getty Images

The crash is eerily similar to a previous Boeing 737 Max 8 crash.

Sunday’s crash appears to already be quite similar to a Lion Air crash in October that killed all 189 people on board. Though that crash is still under investigation as well, it may have been caused by an update to a safety system on the plane that was designed to pull the aircraft out of a dangerous stall, according to previous reports. The anti-stall system may have been triggered on the Lion Air flight due to inaccurate data transmitted or processed from sensors on the fuselage. That inaccurate data could have caused the plane to nosedive into the water. Investigators will likely look into this as the cause of the Ethiopian crash as well. 

The victims of the plane crash came from all over the world. 

According to The Washington Post, the victims of the crash came from more than 30 countries. Passengers included 32 Kenyans, 18 Canadians, nine Ethiopians, eight Italians, eight Americans, and seven U.K. citizens. Four of the passengers, The Washington Post added, held passports of the United Nations. 

Rescue team carry collected bodies in bags at the crash site of Ethiopia Airlines near Bishoftu, a town some 60 kilometres southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, on March 10, 2019.
MICHAEL TEWELDE/Getty Images

Ethiopian and several other airlines have now grounded its 737 Max 8 planes.

Mere hours after the crash, both China and Indonesia ordered all airlines in their respective nations to ground all 737 Max 8 planes. As The New York Times reported, airlines in China and Indonesia are among the biggest users of the new aircraft and account for the largest orders of the planes so far. 

Boeing is cooperating with the crash investigation. On Sunday it issued a statement noting it is “deeply saddened” about the crash. It added that a “Boeing technical team will be traveling to the crash site to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and U.S. National Transportation Safety Board.”