‘A punch in the nose for Boeing’: Second fatal crash raises questions about plane’s safety

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The airplane model is the same. Some key circumstances are remarkably similar. And the outcome was equally tragic.

It’s no wonder, then, that a number of questions are being raised about the safety of Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 aircraft, the plane involved in Sunday’s crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which nosedived to the ground outside the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, killing all 157 on board.

The accident drew immediate parallels to the Oct. 29 crash of a Lion Air plane that plunged from the skies above Indonesia and into the Java Sea, killing all 189 passengers and crew members.

A new MAX 8, an upgraded, more fuel-efficient aircraft from Boeing’s popular 737 line, was also involved in that calamity. In both instances, the pilots tried to return to the airport a few minutes after takeoff but were not able to make it back. And both flights experienced drastic speed fluctuations during ascent.

But experts warn that doesn’t mean the reasons they plummeted were the same.

“As far comparing it to the Lion crash, that’s very tempting because the profile looks very similar, but that could be totally wrong. We’re really early in all of this,’’ said Robert Ditchey, a former Navy pilot and airline executive who’s now an aviation consultant.

“This is a punch in the nose for Boeing, but you can’t blame Boeing yet. You don’t know what happened. It may have nothing to do with the airplane itself. It may be a pure coincidence.’’

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