FAA declines to ground Boeing 737 MAX 8

The Federal Aviation Administration on Monday evening declined to order airlines to ground the Boeing 737 MAX 8 after two recent crashes.

In a statement, the FAA said investigators have not yet determined whether the issue with the Ethiopian Airlines jet that crashed on Sunday is related to the issue that brought down the the same plane operated by Lion Air last year.

“External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018,” reads the FAA’s Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community. “However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions.”

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The FAA did say it would mandate “design changes” to the aircraft to be done by next month, in response to last fall’s Lion Air crash.

The changes will include updates to the computer system and the flight crew manual, the FAA said. It described them as “ongoing oversight activities” rather than a response to the Ethiopian crash.

A preliminary report by investigators found the Lion Air pilots were struggling with a safety system designed to prevent the aircraft from stalling. But the system was receiving faulty data, and the pilots’ union has said the training manual does not provide details about the system nor how to counteract it.

The FAA said said the changes will apply to both 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 aircraft, a population of 387 airplanes worldwide and 74 in the US.