A growing list of countries has grounded the Boeing 737 Max from flying over their airspace after two of the new jets have crashed.
An Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed last weekend, killing 157 passengers and crew.
Five months earlier, another identical jet dived into the sea shortly after take-off from Indonesia. All 189 passengers and crew died.
Crash investigators have been wary about linking the two incidents, but safety experts claim that two crashes within such a short time of a new aircraft are unprecedented.
Regulators across the world have banned the Boeing 737 Max from using airports or flying across their airspace due to concerns about passenger safety. The ban covers China, Europe, India, the UK, Australia, Malaysia. Singapore and Ethiopia.
Black box data under scrutiny
The suspicion is a new anti-stall feature installed to help pilots is malfunctioning and caused the crashes, but a final report establishing what caused both crashes will not be delivered until forensic investigators have finished examining the black box flight recorders of both jets.
Boeing explained a “flight control software enhancement” for the aircraft was in development, but the company is confident the jets are safe to fly.
More than £21 billion has been wiped off the company’s market value in a few days.
The decision to ground the aircraft is also causing some problems for aviation regulators in the USA, where Boeing is a major investor and employer.
The Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) is the only leading aviation authority not to ban the plane.
About the Boeing 737 Max
The FAA granted the aircraft airworthiness certificates and must now decide whether to withdraw them.
Pressure is mounting, with the US Association of Flight Attendants-CWA union urging the FAA to “temporarily ground the 737 Max fleet in the US out of an abundance of caution”.
The 737 Max is Boeing’s fastest ever selling jet, with around 5,000 orders and more than 300 delivered.
The Max comes in several versions with different seating configurations allowing the plane to carry between 130 and 230 passengers.
The range is between 3,300 and 3,850 miles.
The Boeing 737 Max is 117 feet long with a 118 feet wing span. Power comes from twin LEAP-1B engines.