The Atlantic

Is It Time to Worry About the Boeing 737 Max 8?

No one knows for sure—but here is where experts will be looking for clues.
Source: Pascal Rossignol / Reuters

The first thing to say after an aviation disaster, such as the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed all 157 people aboard over the weekend, is that it is an unspeakable tragedy for those who perished and for the families, communities, and organizations that will forever feel the effects of this loss. Sympathies to all of them.

The second thing to say is that much of the initial guesswork and speculation about crashes turn out to be false, and it can take months or years to deduce what actually happened. (Or longer, as with the ongoing uncertainty about the lost Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, which vanished more than five years ago.)

Modern airlines are statistically very, very safe. The most recent U.S. airline fatality was in April 2018, when an engine blew up on a Southwest flight—and the debris hit a window and pulled one passenger partly outside, leading to her death. Five years before that, an Asiana Airlines plane, from Korea, had a misjudged-landing accident in San Francisco, in which three passengers died. Before that had been another multiyear stretch of no fatalities in U.S. airline operations.

[Hannah Giorgis: The Western erasure of African tragedy]

This doesn’t make the tragedy or horror any less

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