Boeing 737 crash: which model of plane operated by China Eastern Airlines crashed - was it 737-800 or 737 Max?
The plane had a good safety record until the crash, with no cause yet known
A China Eastern Airlines plane crashed into the mountains in Guangxi, China on 21 March, killing all 123 people on board and causing a huge fire.
Unlike the Boeing 737 Max, which was grounded after crashes in 2018 and 2019, the plane which crashed in China is said to be a Boeing 737 model which had a good safety record until the incident.
So what is the plane model’s safety record - and how does it differ to the Boeing 737?
Which model of Boeing 737 crashed?
The model of plane involved in the crash was the Boeing 737-800, which is one of the most popular types of Boeing 737.
It has a strong safety record, and the reason for this crash is not yet known.
What happened in the China Eastern Airlines crash?
Flight MU5735 was scheduled to leave Kunming, the capital city of China’s southern Yunnan province, at 1.15pm local time (5.15GMT) and was en route to Guangzhou, north west of Hong Kong. There were 123 people onboard.
The journey usually takes just under two hours to complete.
Flight trackers like FlightRadar24 show that the plane was in the air for just over an hour, but now show its location as "unknown".
According to FlightRadar24 data, the last sourced information on the flight showed it ended at 2.22pm local time, at an altitude of 3,225 ft.
The number of casualties is not yet known, and rescue crews have been deployed to the area according to Chinese broadcaster, CCTV.
However, rescuers say they have seen “no signs” of survivors as yet, and it is feared everyone on board may have died in the crash.
CCTV cited the provincial emergency management bureau as the source of its information.
What is the difference between the Boeing 737-800 and the Boeing 737-Max?
The Boeing 737-800 is the predecessor of the Max. Both are narrow body airliners.
The plane model was launched in 1994, with Hapag-Lloyd Flug (now TUI fly Deutschland) receiving the first for commercial use in 1998.
The model is one of the most popular planes in use today and is one of the most commonly seen models at airports up and down the country.
One of the main ways to tell the two planes apart is the shape of the winglets, devices which are intended to improve the efficiency of fixed-wing aircraft by reducing drag.
The new model of the 737 Max has a very unique winglet. It’s shaped like a ‘<‘ sign.
The 737-800, on the other hand, has an ‘L’ shaped winglet.
What happened to the Boeing 737-Max?
The Boeing 737-Max was the fourth generation of the Boeing 737 plane.
It took its maiden flight in January 2016, but a recurring failure in Boeing’s flight stabilising program, the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System, led to two fatal accidents - Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.
The Lion Air Flight 610 was a domestic flight from Soekarno–Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, to Depati Amir Airport in Pangkal Pinang, also Indonesia.
It set off on 29 October 2018, and crashed into the Java Sea 13 minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 passengers and crew.
The Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident happened less than five months later.
This was a scheduled international passenger flight from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in Ethiopia to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya.
On 10 March 2019, the plane crashed near the town of Bishoftu six minutes after takeoff, killing all 157 people aboard.
All crew and passengers on board each flight died - a total of 346 people.
As a result of the accidents, the Boeing 737 Max was grounded worldwide from March 2019.
Investigations were carried out into the crashes, with claims there had been a cover-up of a known defect by Boeing and lapses in the certification by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
Boeing was charged with fraud and agreed to pay over $2.5 billion (around £1.8billion) in penalties and compensation to the U.S. Justice Department to resolve the criminal charge that the company had conspired to defraud the FAA.
Boeing made a series of changes to the aircraft which meant it was approved again for commercial use in November 2020.