March 14, 2019 / 10:47 PM / a day ago

Factbox: What we know about Boeing 737 MAX crash and what comes next

(Reuters) - More than 300 Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 passenger jets around the world have been taken out of service following two fatal crashes over the past five months in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed almost 350 people in all.

FILE PHOTO: American civil aviation and Boeing investigators search through the debris at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET 302 plane crash, near the town of Bishoftu, southeast of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Baz Ratner/File Photo

The causes of both crashes are under investigation. One of the biggest unanswered questions: Was the plane’s software to blame?

WHAT WE KNOW  

- Boeing has stopped delivery of all new MAX jets to its customers.

- Satellite data gathered from the Ethiopian Airlines flight and evidence from the crash site showed similarities with a Lion Air accident in Indonesia, prompting the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration to ground all MAX jets.

- Ethiopia said the Ethiopian Airlines flight had “clear similarities” with the Lion Air crash, as shown by initial analysis of the black boxes recovered from the wreckage of the March 10 disaster, in which all 157 people on board were killed.

- Investigators have found a piece of a stabilizer in the wreckage of the Ethiopian jet with the trim set in an unusual position similar to that of the Lion Air plane, two sources familiar with the matter said.

- The pilot of the Ethiopian Airlines flight had reported internal control problems and received permission to return. The pilot of the Lion Air flight, which crashed on Oct. 29 with the loss of all 189 people on board, had also asked to return not along after taking off from Jakarta.

- The Ethiopian Airlines flight had an unusually high speed after take-off before the plane reported problems and asked permission to climb quickly, said a source who has listened to the air traffic control recording.

- A voice from the cockpit requested to climb to 14,000 feet above sea level - about 6,400 feet above the airport - before urgently asking to return, the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity. The plane vanished from radar at 10,800 feet.

- In Paris, France’s BEA air accident investigation agency said data from the flight recorder had been successfully downloaded.

- The agency said that information had been transferred to Ethiopian investigators and that its technical work on the flight data recorder and cockpit voice recorder had been done.

- Indonesia plans to move up by about a month the release of an investigation report on the Lion Air crash, its transport safety committee said. It now plans to release the report between July and August, ahead of its previous schedule of between August and September.

- Following the Lion Air crash, Boeing said it was preparing a software upgrade for the jets. After the Ethiopia crash, the company said it would deploy that upgrade across the fleet in the coming weeks.

- Boeing maintains its new, fuel-efficient jets are safe, but supported the FAA decision to ground them. Fearing a financial hit and brand damage, investors have wiped nearly $25 billion off the company’s market value.

WHAT’S NEXT?

- U.S. lawmakers said the planes could be grounded for weeks to upgrade and install the software in every plane.

- Boeing plans to release upgraded software for its 737 MAX in a week to 10 days, sources familiar with the matter said on March 16.

- No lawsuits have been filed since the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, but some plaintiffs’ lawyers said they expect that Boeing will be sued in the United States.

- Investigators are expected to release a preliminary report based on information they glean from the data and cockpit recordings captured by the two black boxes.

- Ethiopian Airlines said on March 16 that DNA testing of the remains of the passengers may take up to six months.

- A decision will be made by countries about whether and when to lift the grounding of the Boeing jets based on that information.

Compiled by Ben Klayman, Sayantani Ghosh, Mark Potter and Keith Weir

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