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Boeing’s reputation, billions of dollars at stake as 737 MAX 8 investigation launched

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Boeing 737 Max 8 jet operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed six minutes after take-off on Sunday en route from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing all 157 people on board. The tragedy followed Indonesia’s Lion Air 737 Max 8 crash in October that killed 189 passengers and crew.

Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 is now under investigation after two deadly accidents in less than five months. The US firm’s reputation and billions of dollars are at stake depending on the results of the probe into the cause of the crashes.

The latest crash of the best-selling jet in the Boeing’s 737 range might seriously challenge the unrivalled reputation of the aerospace giant. Despite the October crash the manufacturer could boast 5,011 firm orders from 79 customers for its 737 MAX 8 as of the end of January.

The worst-case scenario may reportedly wipe out up to five percent of Boeing’s annual revenue within several months. If the software problem causes full grounding of the jets and even suspension of deliveries, the company will lose around $5.1 billion, according to experts from Jefferies investment bank, as quoted by the Washington Post. The analysts say that the entire 737 program is projected to raise $32 billion for Boeing in 2019 alone.

Boeing stock continued sliding on Tuesday, down over five percent at 14:44 GMT.

Late on Monday, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Boeing’s 737 Max 8 model is airworthy. The agency declined to order airlines to ground the jet. The aerospace group said it is working on a software update on the aircraft in close cooperation with the FAA.

The FAA decision hasn’t stopped global carriers and aviation authorities from grounding the jet until the results of a full investigation, which could take months. However, some regulators reject to the drastic measure, saying that mounting concerns over the jet’s safety are far too premature.