• The Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes both killed everyone on board and involved the new Boeing 737 Max 8 planes, but there is one clear difference between both disasters.
  • The Lion Air plane had been experiencing technical problems on its previous flight that left it climbing and falling so wildly that people on board vomited.
  • In contrast, no issues had been reported with the Ethiopian Airlines plane and the airline's CEO said: "The routine maintenance check didn't reveal any problems."
  • The investigation into the cause of the Lion Air crash is ongoing, while officials say they cannot rule out any potential reason for the Ethiopia Airlines crash until a probe is complete.

The Ethiopian Airlines crash and the Lion Air crash are being compared as they both involved a Boeing 737 Max 8, but we already know of one major difference between the two air disasters.

The CEO of Ethiopian Airlines said the plane, which killed all 157 on board when it crashed on Sunday, did not have any known technical difficulties, and there were no previous reports of issues.

Tewolde GebreMariam told reporters on Monday that "the routine maintenance check didn't reveal any problems," CNN reported.

In contrast, the Lion Air plane, which killed all 189 people on board when it crashed into the Java Sea in November 2018, had been experiencing technical problems.

Ethiopian Airlines crash
People walk past a part of the wreckage at the scene of the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

The plane experienced out-of-control conditions on its previous flight, leaving passengers vomiting and panicking.

Nurcahyo Utomo, the aviation head at Indonesia's National Transport Safety Committee, said at the launch of a preliminary report into the disaster that Lion Air checked the jet and cleared it for take off for the fatal flight after carrying out some maintenance procedures in response to the problems.

But Utomo said the airline should never have let it fly. He said "in our opinion, the plane was no longer airworthy and it should not have continued" after problems on its last flight the day before.

Lion air shoes
Shoes of passengers of Lion Air flight JT610 are seen at Tanjung Priok port in Jakarta, Indonesia, in October 2018.
March 12, 2019

The preliminary report itself did not state that the plane was not airworthy, but it did outline technical problems with the plane.

Investigations into the cause of the Lion Air crash are still ongoing, while Ethiopian Airlines said it could not rule anything out as a cause until an investigation is complete.

GebreMariam, the Ethiopia Airlines airline's CEO, said on Monday: "As it is a fresh incident, we have not been able to determine the cause. As I said, it is a brand new airplane with no technical remarks, flown by a senior pilot and there is no cause that we can attribute at this time."

Both crashes involved new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircrafts

Both the Ethiopian Airlines and the Lion Air crashes involved new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircrafts. The Lion Air plane was delivered just two months before the crash, while the Ethiopian Airlines plane was only delivered in November.

Investigators will look into the plane's maintenance, the Associated Press reported. The last maintenance on the jet was on February 4 and it had flown just 1,200 hours, according to the AP.

Boeing 737 Max 8
A Boeing 737 Max 8.

Boeing said it did not intend to issue any new recommendations about the aircraft to customers, and the US's top air-safety regulator said the plane model is safe to fly.

But a number of airlines and countries have grounded the plane model after the latest crash, including Australia on Tuesday.

Boeing said it plans to send a technical team to the crash site to help investigators. It said in a statement that it was "deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew" on the aircraft.