A union representing around 28,000 flight attendants working for American Airlines has sent a letter to the head of Boeing demanding more involvement in the recertification of the MAX. In it, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants President Lori Bassani questions the FAA’s ability to deliver adequate oversight, and says that flight attendants will refuse to work on a plane they do not believe is safe.
Flight attendants refuse to work on an unsafe plane
Reuters reports seeing a letter from American Airlines’ flight attendants union stating that they still have concerns over the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX. In the letter, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants President Lori Bassani said,
“The 28,000 flight attendants working for American Airlines refuse to walk onto a plane that may not be safe and are calling for the highest possible safety standards to avoid another tragedy.”
The letter was dated the 30th October, and has been sent to the chief executive of Boeing, Dennis Muilenburg, during his second day of grilling at Capitol Hill.
What do the flight attendants want?
In essence, what these workers are calling for is an involvement in the recertification process. They feel that the wool was pulled over their eyes by the FAA and Boeing once before, and now wish to have complete oversight of what they are walking into.
All the US operators of the MAX were the last ones to fly the plane. Other aviation authorities such as China, Europe, Australia and many more had all grounded the aircraft long before the FAA made its move. At that time, the APFA negotiated on behalf of its members to prevent flight attendants from being forced to work on the plane if they felt it was unsafe to do so.
Now, Bassani is demanding that her group has all the information needed in order to assess the safety of working on the planes again. In the letter, she states that it clear that there were “serious breakdowns in the supervision of the 737 MAX”, and questions the resources at the FAA’s disposal to provide adequate oversight.
A Boeing spokesperson told Reuters that Muilenburg would respond to the letter soon, adding,
“We are committed to providing flight attendants, pilots and our airline customers the information they need so we can re-earn their trust and that of the traveling public that counts on them.”
When will American Airlines fly the MAX again?
American Airlines updated on the planned reintroduction of the 737 MAX earlier this month. They said that the aircraft, pending permission to fly, will be phased back into its fleet from the 16th January onwards. This was the first time any carrier had pinpointed a date at which they expected to be able to fly the plane.
However, if they want to get the plane operational, they’re going to need to get their FAs on side. Soon after the planned reinstatement date was announced, Bassani sent a memo to the 28,000 flight attendants working for American Airlines. As reported by Paddle Your Own Kanoo, the memo said,
“It will be imperative that our members are assured of the complete safety of this aircraft before taking it back up in the air. Our crews and passengers deserve to have the highest level of assurances prior to re-entry into the air space. Our lives and passengers’ lives depend on it. Safety is and always will be our top priority. Our lives are not for sale,”
Boeing still expects the aircraft to return to service during the current quarter.