We witnessed a horrible tragedy yesterday with the crash of the second 737 MAX aircraft in just a matter of months. None of the passenger or crew survived in either this incident or the Lion Air crash last fall off the coast of Indonesia. The situation of both of these crashes are similar, as they occurred in the takeoff phase, shortly after departure, and it has made me uneasy about flying on a 737 MAX aircraft. While I’d once been excited about the plane, right now I am unnerved thinking about it.
Aviation these days is incredibly safe, and airlines and governments take air safety incredibly seriously. Following yesterday’s crash, a number of countries and airlines are grounding their 737 MAX 8 aircraft until they get some answers regarding the cause of this crash, and maybe some more insight into the previous crash. The data and voice recorders have both been recovered, so hopefully we have some answers soon.
Airlines and governments grounding 737 MAX aircraft
Ethiopian Airlines has grounded all of its 737 MAX aircraft following the crash. This is completely understandable, as it is one of their planes that crashed in yesterday’s incident during departure from Addis Ababa. This is being done as a safety precaution until more information is understood about the cause of the crash. Ethiopian only has five of the new aircraft.
China, the country with the largest fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, has also grounded all the aircraft. This is a total of 93 of the new planes, divided among Air China, China Eastern, China Southern, Xiamen, Hainan, Shandong, and Shenzen airlines.
The Ministry of Transportation of Indonesia also grounded its 737 MAX aircraft. The previous crash last October was an aircraft of one of their airlines and in their airspace, as the plane had just taken off from Jakarta, so I’m not surprised they are one of the first to ground the aircraft. Cayman Airways has also grounded its five Boeing 737 MAX planes.
In general, I find these decisions to be wise and precautionary in light of what we know (and don’t know) about yesterday’s crash. I’ve read about multiple people who have contacted U.S. airlines to change or cancel flights that are on 737 MAX 8 aircraft due to the concern they have. Two brand new aircraft going down like this in a similar manner in a matter of months is unprecedented in modern aviation. Safety is paramount, and if it is called into question, we need answers and corrective action before taking to the skies in another of these aircraft.
So far, none of the U.S. airlines have issued statement regarding grounding their 737 MAX planes. American, Southwest, United, and Air Canada all use the new aircraft. Norwegian, who flies the new planes between the east coast and western Europe, also hasn’t made any move to ground their aircraft. Considering that the aircraft are integral to their operations and they are (sadly) having serious financial difficulties, grounding these aircraft would be devastating to the budget carrier.
More carriers may join the list. I personally don’t expect the U.S. carriers to follow suit, unless the FAA makes the decision.