Update: As of March 13, the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all Boeing 737 Max jets in the U.S., citing new evidence that showed similarities between last week’s Ethiopian Airlines’ crash and the Lion Air crash in October 2018.
More than 25 airlines and dozens of countries, including the entire European Union, are temporarily banning flights aboard the Boeing 737-Max 8 aircraft following two fatal crashes in less than six months involving that model.
Airlines Grounding 737-Max 8
Norwegian, Turkish Airlines, Aeromexico, and Icelandair are among the airlines grounding the 737-MAX 8 aircraft in their fleets, while U.S. carriers such as Southwest Airlines and American Airlines are keeping the planes in service. While both American Airlines and Southwest Airlines have turned to social media to express confidence in the 737-Max 8 aircraft in their fleets, senators on both sides of the aisle, such as Democrat Richard Blumenthal and Republican Mitt Romney, are asking airlines and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to ground these Boeing planes while an investigation is underway.
“Out of an abundance of caution for the flying public, the FAA should ground the 737 Max 8 until we investigate the cause of recent crashes an ensure the plane’s airworthiness,” Romney tweeted today.
The Senator’s concerns come after the FAA released a statement on Monday with plans to issue a “Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community (CANIC) of Boeing 737 operators.” The statement goes on to explain that “the FAA continuously assesses and oversees the safety performance of U.S. commercial aircraft. If we identify an issue that affects safety, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action.”
Despite several airlines, the FAA, and Boeing itself expressing full confidence in the 737 Max 8 aircraft, U.S. senators are not the only ones expressing concern over use of the aircraft. The Association of Professional Flight Attendants, which represents more than 27,000 American Airlines flight attendants, issued a statement today calling on American Airlines CEO Doug Parker to strongly consider grounding the 737-Max 8 planes until a thorough investigation can be performed.
“While we cannot draw premature conclusions, it is critical to work with manufacturers, regulators and airlines to take steps to address our important safety concerns. The safety of our crews and passengers is paramount,” the statement read, adding that flight attendants who felt uncomfortable flying on a 737-Max 8 aircraft would not be forced to do so.
Travel advisors are also feeling the pushback from the growing uncertainty surrounding the Boeing planes as clients express concerns and even reconsider their trips.
“I have already had people inquire about the Boeing 737 Max. After speaking with American Airlines, they’re not waiving fees, so the clients really are faced with forfeiting those tickets if they don’t want to fly on that equipment,” says travel advisor Kim Goldstein who specializes in Disney Destinations, Sandals & Beaches.
Purchasing new tickets to avoid the aircraft in question isn’t a guarantee either as “AA also told us that at any point they can change equipment, so even if they purchase new tickets, they could still end up on a Boeing 737 Max,” adds Goldstein. “It’s a tough situation because if something happened, they could really be negligent after the known issues over the last few months.”
For more information, visit faa.gov.