Just over 48 hours ago a Boeing 737 MAX crashed in Ethiopia, making it the second of the aircraft type to crash in a few months. We don’t know exactly what happened, though we know there are similarities between the two crashes, and we also know that some software updates will be released soon, later than initially promised.
There are nearly 400 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, operated by nearly 60 airlines. Over the past 48 hours we’ve seen country after country ground them, and we’ve also seen many airlines voluntarily ground them.
At this point every major Boeing 737 MAX operator outside of North America has grounded these planes, either voluntarily or by request from the government. Every. Single. One.
Yet none of the US or Canadian operators of the plane — American, Southwest, United, Air Canada, and WestJet — have grounded their planes, voluntarily or involuntarily (it’s debatable whether United should or not, given that they operate the -9, and the -8 was involved in both accidents).
The airlines that have grounded their planes presumably haven’t taken the decision lightly, as it’s going to be very costly. They haven’t done this because they absolutely know something is wrong with the plane. Rather, they’ve grounded the 737 MAX because they don’t absolutely know that something isn’t wrong with the plane.
Modern aviation is so incredibly safe, so to see two of the same types of new planes crash so close together should be concerning, if nothing else.
But at some point doesn’t the US (and to a lesser extent, Canada) come out of this looking ridiculous? Boeing is standing behind their plane. The FAA is standing behind Boeing. American and Canadian airlines are standing behind the plane. It’s the US and Canada against the world, it seems.
Are they actually 100% certain that there’s nothing systematically wrong with the 737 MAX, including the way pilots are trained to fly it? Do they think the concerns of every other relevant aviation authority in the world are unfounded? If they even have the slightest concern about the integrity of the plane, shouldn’t they put lives ahead of profits?
Even if they stand behind the plane, I’d be willing to bet that public opinion will otherwise cause these planes to be grounded.
Just look at the news, it’s constantly being talked about.
Just look at the Twitter timelines of these airlines, and you’ll see that almost every single question is from people asking if they’re scheduled to fly a 737 MAX, and if they can change flights.
Just go to an airport. I’ve heard a countless number of reports today of people at airports overhearing questions about whether they’re flying one of those “bad planes.”
The US FAA has long been the gold standard for aviation safety, and has been the organization that others have followed. How much credibility do they lose when dozens of other authorities temporarily ground the plane, and they do nothing?
I also don’t understand how US airlines think they’re going to win in this situation. Unions at American and Southwest are calling for the planes to be grounded.
This isn’t just going to fade away, and in my opinion the longer US airlines and/or the FAA wait, the worse they look in all of this. I’d say American looks especially bad here — at least Southwest is letting people rebook onto different planes, while American isn’t.
What do you guys think — do you think US/Canadian airlines and the FAA will eventually be forced to change their tune here, or do you think they’re sticking to their guns?