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Insurers monitor Boeing crash probe

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Insurers could face large claims related to the Ethiopian Airlines crash this month, which reportedly bears a striking resemblance to another deadly accident involving the same aircraft model.

All 157 people on board died in the crash near Addis Ababa – the second deadly incident in six months involving Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 aircraft, after Lion Air flight 610 went down off the Indonesian coast, killing all 189 passengers and crew.

Ethiopia’s transport minister says flight data from the Ethiopian Airlines disaster suggests “clear similarities” with the Indonesia crash last October.

The second crash led to Boeing recommending grounding of the global fleet of 737 MAX aircraft while investigations continue.

While no Australian airline has yet taken delivery of the aircraft – the first of 40 for Virgin Australia is scheduled for delivery in December – a small number of MAX 8s are operated by airlines that fly into the country.

The insured value of the recently introduced plane is believed to be about $US50 million ($70.66 million).

Industry sources say initial insurance payments to victims’ families will be made by Ethiopian Airlines’ insurers. Willis Towers Watson is the airline’s broker and Chubb the lead insurer.

The cause of the crash is of vital importance to the Chubb-led consortium, because if it can prove the aircraft was defective it may recoup its losses from Boeing’s insurers, of which UK-based Global Aerospace is the lead insurer.