In the last 24 hours, the world has seen a flurry of nations and airlines ground the 737 MAX. China, Indonesia, Australia, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Malaysia, and Singapore (among many others) have all restricted the 737 MAX from entering their airspace. The largest remaining countries where the MAX still flies are Canada and the United States.
Air Canada, American Airlines, Westjet, Southwest, and United combined make up a significant number of 737 MAX aircraft flying in North America. Together, as the largest operators, they have been adamant in their refusal to ground this aircraft as many airlines and operators around the world have already done.
If you’re keeping tabs, the only 737 MAX that are flying in the world are in North America. No other airlines are operating the 737 MAX. And now, it is starting to weigh on U.S. operators and the FAA.
Passengers and government officials alike have tried to pressure North American carriers and the FAA into grounding the aircraft, but as of now, there is zero, I repeat, zero notice or interest in doing so. In fact, these airlines have gone so far as to take every possible step to keep the 737 MAX flying and passengers “stuck” on those types of aircraft or risk not flying.
It makes sense why these airlines do not want the plane grounded from a business standpoint. Airlines are about making money and a plane that isn’t flying isn’t making any money. Given the significant number of aircraft in their fleet, it seems highly unlikely that they’d ground the aircraft voluntarily.
From a passenger standpoint, it doesn’t seem like many people would be comfortable getting on a 737 MAX 8. Many aviation experts and professionals along with influential U.S. politicians have publicly stated they lack confidence in the 737 MAX’s safety.
It is important to recognize the other airlines that have grounded the 737 MAX. Struggling carriers Norwegian and Jet Airways have grounded the 737 MAX. With declining profits and mounting debt, these airlines are going to be most affected by the lack of these planes making money in the sky.
And then there are these few remaining carriers which, aside from Westjet, are very healthy airlines that could take the grounding of a relatively small percentage of their aircraft. In fact, it might go a long way in making passengers more inclined to fly with them.
Given how safe flying is these days, seeing two brand new aircraft crash under relatively similar circumstances does not indicate flying itself is dangerous. It indicates that, maybe, just maybe, there is an inherent flaw with this kind of aircraft.
And it seems like every other continent and airline aside from these remaining few have picked up on that. They’ve taken the mantra “better safe than sorry” and are doing everything in their power to prevent another horrific tragedy from occurring. Every other airline and government grounded their 737 MAX because they don’t want to even take the risk.
So now, it is the US and Canada standing their ground as the rest of the world grounds this aircraft. There could be some significant nationalistic pride coming from the FAA since Boeing would take a huge hit if the FAA grounded the 737 MAX, but the FAA did it for the 787 over issues that were, in comparison to the MAX, far less significant.
If it takes another horrific crash from an American or Canadian carrier to change the minds of the FAA, then it would be clear that the FAA isn’t a “gold standard” in aviation safety any longer. And, should there be another major incident with the 737 MAX on American or Canadian soil, then there will be far more questions than any of these airlines, the FAA, or Boeing would be willing to answer and a far higher price to pay than they could have ever imagined.
Should the FAA ground the 737 MAX? Are you booked on a 737 MAX? Would you fly a 737 MAX? Let us know in the comments below!
Featured Image courtesy of Boeing.