On Sunday, Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 crashed just six minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa en route to Nairobi. The plane in question, carrying 157 passengers and crew on board, was a Boeing 737 MAX 8, the same model plane that went down into the Java Sea also just minutes after take-off from the Indonesian airline Lion Air in October last year.
With the second accident from the exact same plane within five months, Boeing has been scrambling to come up with answers for the accidents that have now claimed the lives of a total of 346 people. So far, it is unknown whether or not the two accidents are linked, and as a result, the FAA has "declined" to ground the 737 MAX 8 planes in the U.S., according to CNN.
"External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018," a statement by the FAA reads. "However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions."
However, they have not ruled out taking action in the future should the outcome of the investigation show that there is a potential link in the two crashes that could affect future flights.
"If we identify an issue that affects safety, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action."Despite refusing to order airlines to ground the planes, the FAA has ordered that specific upgrades and maintenance be carried out on them and the MAX 9 planes, to be completed by no later than April this year.
While the cause of the Ethiopian airlines crash is as yet unknown, the Lion Air accident was attributed to faulty safety equipment.
Although the FAA have declared the Boeing 737 MAX 8 airworthy, other countries have taken a different approach following this second accident. China, Indonesia, and Ethiopia have already acted by grounding all of the MAX 8's in their countries, and a South African airline has also decided to ground them until further notice until the accident report from the Ethiopian Airlines crash can determine whether or not there is a link.
Passengers all over the world have been rattled by the similarities of the two accidents, despite there being no conclusive evidence that they are linked as yet. Both the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines accidents happened just minutes after take-off, and both planes were fairly new at the time of the crashes.
According to the New York Times, Southwest Airlines has 34 Boeing 737 MAX 8's in its fleet, with Air Canada and American Airlines each flying 24. Not one of the three airlines has grounded the planes following the latest accident. Neither United Airlines nor Delta Air Lines operates any of the Boeing 737 MAX 8's, although United does have MAX 9's in its fleet.