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Crash wipes Boeing's $28b stock market value

Aviation world waits as black box review begins in France

March 16, 2019 00:00:00

PARIS/ADDIS ABABA, Mar 15 (Agencies): Investigators in France examined on Friday the black boxes of a Boeing 737 MAX that crashed in Ethiopia, as a spooked global airline industry waited to see if the cause was similar to a disaster in Indonesia months before.

Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed soon after take-off from Addis Ababa last weekend, killing 157 people, the second such calamity involving Boeing's flagship new model after a jet came down off Indonesia in October with 189 people on board.

In both cases, pilots asked to return minutes into flight.

The international repercussions are huge. Regulators have grounded the 737 MAX around the world.

Parallels between the twin disasters have frightened travelers worldwide and wiped almost $28 billion off Boeing's stock market value.

US aircraft industry company Boeing continues to manufacture aircraft of the 737 MAX model despite the decision to suspend their deliveries, a company spokesperson said.

"I am confirming that we are pausing delivery of 737 Max due to the temporary grounding," the official said.

When asked for how long will the deliveries be suspended, he replied: "Don't know yet. We are continuing to produce the airplane, build it."

US aviation authorities say information from the wreckage in Ethiopia plus newly-refined data about its flight path indicated some similarities.

Two sources said investigators retrieved from the wreckage a piece of a stabilizer, which moves the nose up and down, that was set in an unusual position - one similar to that of the Lion Air plane that crashed in Indonesia.

Pilots were waiting anxiously for the investigation.

"Looking at the crash site photos, the aircraft appears to have nose-dived," Paul Gichinga, former head of the Kenya Airline Pilots Association, told Reuters.

"The pilot must have gotten some sort of indication that maybe the airspeed was unreliable or something and decided, instead of climbing and going to sort out the problem up there, the best thing was to return to have it sorted."

Boeing, the world's biggest planemaker, has said the 737 MAX is safe, though it plans to roll out a software upgrade in the coming weeks.

With heightened global scrutiny, the head of Indonesia's transport safety committee said a report into the Lion Air crash would be speeded up for release in July or August.

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