The crash of an airplane in Indonesia with more than 60 people is a difficult time for aviation giant Boeing. Its reputation was marred by years of investigations into fatal crashes.
While authorities are still investigating the cause, the plane that crashed near the Indonesian capital Jakarta on Saturday was a 26-year-old 737-500, a workhorse model with a good safety record. The aircraft at the center of the Boeing crisis was the 737 Max, a later version with flawed anti-stall software that led to two fatal crashes.
Here’s what you should know about the Boeing plane crashing in Indonesia.
What caused the Boeing plane crash in Indonesia?
It is unclear what caused the crash. Sriwijaya Air Flight 182, which flew to the town of Pontianak on the island of Borneo, took off after a delay in bad weather in heavy monsoon rains. It crashed more than 10,000 feet in less than a minute, according to tracking site Flightradar24.
Indonesia, an archipelago nation with thousands of islands, is heavily dependent on air traffic. Although the country has a long history of air accidents, Sriwijaya Air has not had a single fatal crash since it opened in 2003.
The plane involved in the Sriwijaya Air crash, which lost contact shortly after taking off from Jakarta on Saturday, was a Boeing 737-500, a proven model developed in the 1980s, and not the one in trouble Accidental airliner 737 Max, which landed on the ground after fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019.
How does the 737-500 differ from the 737 Max?
The aircraft that was involved in the crash on Saturday is an earlier model of the 737 and has been in service for 26 years. It was previously flown by Continental Airlines and United Airlines before being delivered to Sriwijaya Air in 2012, according to the Airfleets’ online database.
The 737-500 does not have the same crystal system as the 737 Max, which was triggered when another Indonesian flight, Lion Air Flight 610, crashed in 2018, killing all 189 people on board. The same system was blamed when a 737 Max crashed in Ethiopia in March 2019, killing 157 people.
These crashes forced the worldwide landing of the Max fleet and a crisis for Boeing. The company sacked its CEO and said last year that it would cost Max more than $ 18 billion to ground, a major blow even before the coronavirus pandemic hit the industry.
Last week the company agreed to pay $ 2.5 billion, including $ 500 million for a victim fund, to solve a criminal conspiracy charge to defraud the Federal Aviation Administration over the valuation of the 737 Max.
The troubled 737 Max flew again last month. American Airlines Flight 718 made the aircraft’s first commercial flight after the FAA lifted its basic order in November. Before they can fly again, the wiring and software of every 737 Max aircraft must be changed.
What is the history of the Boeing 737-500?
The 737-500 was introduced by Southwest Airlines with the purchase of 20 aircraft in 1987. The airline used the 122-capacity model to more efficiently travel longer routes with fewer passengers, Southwest corporate historian Richard West wrote in 2016. That demand fell as long-haul travel increased, and that of Southwest The last 737-500 flew in September 2016.
In the past the 737-500 was a safe aircraft. The series it belongs to, including the 737-300 and 737-400, has had 19 fatal accidents in more than three decades, or about one fatal accident for every four million departures, according to a 2019 Boeing report.
According to the Aviation Safety Network, four previous fatal accidents were recorded in 737-500, including accidents in South Korea in 1993, Tunisia in 2002, and Russia in 2008 and 2013.
Which airlines fly it?
Boeing manufactured 389s of the 737-500s before the model was discontinued. Up to 100 are used by smaller airlines around the world in countries like Afghanistan, Iran, Nigeria, Russia, and Ukraine, according to the tracking website Planespotters.net.