What to know about the 737 MAX 8, the new plane involved in its second deadly crash in 5 months on Sunday
A Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane crashed in Ethiopia on Sunday, killing all 157 passengers and crew on board. It’s the second of this new model of plane to suffer a deadly crash in 5 months, causing concern among flyers and airline regulators.
Twenty-two airlines around the world have temporarily grounded the 737 MAX 8, according to the New York Times. China, Indonesia and Ethiopia’s regulatory agencies have taken similar action, stopping use of the plane nationally.
However, several North American carriers continue to fly the controversial plane, which was first used in the U.S. in October 2017 by Southwest, The Points Guy reports.
Southwest, American Airlines, Air Canada, and WestJet are among the airlines still flying the model following the second crash.
American, which has 24 MAX 8s in its fleet issued a statement to PEOPLE that they “will closely monitor the investigation in Ethiopia,” but will continue to fly the MAX 8 as scheduled. The statement continues, “We have full confidence in the aircraft and our crew members, who are the best and most experienced in the industry.”
WestJet shared a similar message with PEOPLE, stating, “WestJet remains confident in the safety of our Boeing 737 fleet including our 13 MAX 8 aircraft first introduced in 2017.”
Southwest, which currently has 34 MAX 8 planes in operation (the largest fleet in the U.S.), will also continue to fly the model. A representative provided a statement that reads in part, “We have been in contact with Boeing and will continue to stay close to the investigation as it progresses. We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of our entire fleet . . . and don’t have any changes planned to 737 MAX operations.”
Air Canada did not immediately reply to PEOPLE’s request for comment.
United does not operate any MAX 8s, though they do fly other planes in the range, including 14 MAX 9s, a spokesperson confirms. Delta does not fly any 737 MAX planes.
The Ethiopian Airlines flight was en route from Addis, Ababa, Ethiopia to Nairobia, Kenya, when it crashed six minutes after take off. The airline’s CEO Tewolde Gebremariam said at a press conference there were no survivors following the crash, which happened around 8:44 a.m. local time, after the plane departed from Bole International Airport.
According to the airline, the flight was carrying 149 passengers and eight crew members from more than 30 different countries, including 32 Kenyans; 18 Canadians; nine Ethiopians; eight each from the U.S., China and Italy; and seven each from Great Britain and France. Twenty-two were United Nations staff members.
The airline announced in a press release Monday that both the plane’s Digital Flight Data Recorder (DFDR) and Cockpit Voice Recorder (CVR) had been recovered. The two devices will help investigators determine the cause of the crash.
A spokesperson for Boeing — which did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment — told the Washington Post via email, “The investigation is in its early stages, but at this point, based on the information available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators.”
“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. 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.”
Boeing shares dropped by over 12 percent after trading opened on Monday.
Another Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane, the same model in Sunday’s crash, went down in October 2018 after taking off from Jakarta, Indonesia. All 189 people aboard the Lion Air flight died. The cause of that crash is still under investigation, but preliminary findings linked the crash to a malfunction of a feature meant to prevent the plane from stalling, which caused the nose of the aircraft to repeatedly dip following take off, according the Times. Indonesia is one of the countries that has grounded all of its MAX 8 planes following the crash in Ethiopia.
Investigations in both crashes are ongoing.