Early Sunday morning an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX crashed shortly after takeoff, making it the second 737 MAX to crash during the initial phase of flight in the past several months (a Lion Air 737 MAX crashed after takeoff last October).
As I addressed in a follow-up post, at this point a lot of people are concerned about the 737 MAX, as there are a lot more questions than answers. We don’t know for sure if there’s anything actually wrong with the plane, or if there’s anything wrong with the way pilots are trained to fly the plane. And if either of those are the case, we don’t know what exactly the problem is.
With about 350 737 MAX planes flying nowadays, there’s talk about the possibility of the planes being grounded until investigators figure out what’s happening. After all, the last thing anyone would want to see is a tragedy like this again.
Less than 24 hours after the Ethiopian Airlines incident, China banned domestic airlines from operating the 737 MAX, meaning that nearly 100 737 MAX aircraft are grounded in China.
While they were first, they’re not the only ones, as we’re now seeing both individual airlines and aviation authorities grounding the plane.
Cayman Airways grounds the 737 MAX
To my knowledge, Cayman Airways has become the first airline to voluntarily ground the 737 MAX. The airline has two of these planes in their fleet. Here’s what Cayman Airways’ CEO had to say:
“While the cause of this sad loss is undetermined at this time, we stand by our commitment to putting the safety of our passengers and crew first by maintaining complete and undoubtable safe operations, and as such, we have taken the decision to suspend operations of both our new Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft, effective from Monday March 11, 2019, until more information is received.”
Cayman Airways has a fleet of just five 737s, so to see them ground two of those will have a great impact on their operations, but also shows dedication to erring on the side of caution.
Indonesia grounds the 737 MAX
Indonesia has become the second country after China to temporarily ground the 737 MAX. Currently there are 11 737 MAX aircraft flying in Indonesia, including one belonging to Garuda Indonesia, and 10 belonging to Lion Air.
Authorities have said that the plane is grounded until they can get a better sense of what’s going on.
What other airlines are saying
This all happened over a weekend, so I’ll be curious to see how this unfolds today, given that it’s a Monday (not that the day of the week should impact something as important as this).
As we’ve seen, some countries and airlines are taking immediate action and grounding planes just to be on the safe side. Other airlines are indicating that they remain confident in the 737 MAX:
- FlyDubai has said that they “remain confident in the airworthiness of [their] fleet”
- American, has said that they “have full confidence in the aircraft and [their] crew members, who are the best and most experienced in the industry”
Personally I feel pretty confident that in the next 24-48 hours we’ll see a lot more of these planes grounded…