In the aftermath of the tragedy that befell the passengers on Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302, several airlines around the world have grounded the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft that has now been involved in two crashes in less than six months.
The most wide-ranging responses to the latest accident have come from China and Indonesia where the aviation authorities of both countries announced a unilateral grounding of the 737 MAX 8, meaning that any airline with the plane in its fleet was obliged to stop any planned flights.
The Chinese authorities released a statement explaining that this decision had been made since the aircraft model had already been involved in two crashes.
“Given in both air crashes, the aircrafts were newly delivered Boeing 737 MAX 8, and both accidents occurred during the take-off, they share certain similarities,” the Chinese administration said in the statement.
Nearly 100 Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes across several airlines will be grounded as a result of the decision by the Chinese aviation authority.
The decision by the Indonesian authorities is unsurprising because the first crash involving the Boeing 737 MAX 8 took place in its airspace on a Lion Air flight five months ago.
The ban by the Indonesian authorities will affect 11 Boeing 737 MAX 8s currently operational in the country, 10 of which are in the Air Lion fleet which was involved in the October crash of Flight 610.
As of the time of writing, two individual airlines had suspended all 737 MAX 8 flights.
Ethiopian Airlines: The airline which ran flight ET302 announced that they planned to ground all future Boeing 737 MAX 8 flights on Monday. The airline has grounded its four remaining 737 MAX 8s.
Cayman Air: The small flagship carrier of the British Overseas Territory of the Cayman Islands has officially decided to ground its two 737 MAX 8 planes pending a further investigation.
“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,” said Cayman Airways President and CEO Fabian Whorms in a statement.
Southwest Airlines and American Airlines are two of the carriers which have the largest number of the Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes.
At the time of writing, neither airline has any plans to ground the MAX 8s in their fleets.
A statement from American Airlines expressed its condolences to the families of those killed and said that they would continue to monitor developments:
“At this time there are no facts on the cause of the accident other than news reports. We have full confidence in the aircraft and our crew members, who are the best and most experienced in the industry.”
Southwest Airlines, which currently has 34 operational MAX 8s in its fleet, said:
“We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of our fleet of more than 750 Boeing aircraft.”
Immediately after Sunday’s tragedy, the US aviation authority said that it would help the Ethiopian authorities with the investigation into the crash.
Following the October crash involving the 737 MAX 8, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) pointed out that it had:
“sent out an emergency Airworthiness Directive to advise carriers and pilots on training to disengage the aircraft’s automated controls if there are anomalies.”
Aside from the concern for the terrible loss that this latest tragedy has brought to the families and friends of those killed in yesterday’s accident, serious questions are now being asked of Boeing.
Air travel is safer than at any other point in history, and yet this is an unprecedented double tragedy within the space of 5 months, and both crashes involve the same plane made by the same manufacturer.
Shares in Boeing fell more than 11 percent when the New York Stock Exchange opened this morning, with the stock currently trading at $397.83, still more than 5.8 percent down on the day.