This latest version of Boeing’s best-selling 737 family has been thrown into the spotlight after a fatal crash in Ethiopia, months after a deadly crash involving an identical brand-new jet in Indonesia.
A Nairobi-bound Boeing 737 MAX 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed minutes after takeoff from Addis Adaba, killing all 157 on board.
The same model flown by Lion Air crashed off the coast of Indonesia in October, killing all 189 on board.
There are still unanswered questions about the causes of the Lion Air crash, and officials and safety experts said it was too soon to draw links with the Ethiopian incident.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Boeing said it would send a technical team to the crash site to provide assistance.
Boeing’s shares lost 12 percent in the weeks following the Lion Air crash. They slid almost 10 percent in early trading on Monday.
The share move, if maintained through normal trading hours, would be the biggest fall in Boeing’s stock in nearly two decades, halting a surge that has seen it triple in value in just over three years to a record high of $446 last week.
Boeing’s 737 MAX is the newest version of a jet that has been a fixture of passenger travel for decades and the cash cow of the world’s largest aircraft maker, competing against Airbus SE’s A320neo family of single-aisle jetliners.
The decades-old 737 families is considered one of the industry’s most reliable aircraft.
Boeing rolled out the fuel-efficient MAX 8 in 2017 as an update to the already redesigned 50-year-old 737, and had delivered 350 MAX jets out of the total order tally of 5,011 aircraft by the end of January.
Former National Transportation Safety Board chairman Mark Rosenker said the catastrophic crashes of two new airplanes were “highly unusual” and both had broad similarities in that they went down soon after takeoff.
While it is unclear if there is a direct link, “this is now an extraordinary issue” for aviation safety officials to grapple with and will prompt a sweeping investigation to determine if there are common issues, Rosenker said.
Dallas-based Southwest Airlines Co is the biggest operator of the MAX 8, with 31 aircraft, followed by American Airlines Group Inc and Air Canada with 24 each.
Southwest and American said on Sunday they remained fully confident in the aircraft and were closely monitoring the investigation.
China and Ethiopia grounded all Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft while a number of airlines across the world are carrying out safety measures on the jets.