There has been much reaction throughout the industry and with the flying public after the fatal crash of Ethiopian flight ET302 on Sunday 10th March. The incident was the second fatal crash involving the brand new Boeing 737 MAX-8 aircraft, after Lion Air flight JT610 crashed into the Java Sea on 29th October 2018.
Both accident aircraft were considered brand new. The aircraft operating JT610 (PK-LQP) was just over 2 months old when it crashed 12 minutes after take-off, and ET302 was operated by a four month old aircraft (ET-AVJ), which crashed 6 minutes after take-off. There were no survivors on either flight.
Both flight recorders from ET302 have since been found.
Given both aircraft crashed under seemingly similar circumstances and the Boeing 737 MAX type only entered airline service on 22nd May 2017, operators from around the world are reacting by temporarily grounding their 737 MAX fleets. In China, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) have grounded all 737 MAX aircraft, which affects 6 carriers (including Air China, China Eastern and Hainan Airlines) and a total of 97 aircraft. Chinese aviation is considered as very safe, with an ever increasing number of airlines and aircraft, yet no Chinese jetliner has suffered a fatal incident since 2010.
Following the Chinese, the Indonesian authorities have also grounded the 737 MAX, and select airlines from other nations are following suit. Cayman Airways has grounded both of its two new 737 MAX 8s, Ethiopian Airlines has grounded its remaining four, Royal Air Maroc (RAM) has grounded its two MAX-8s, and MIAT Mongolian Airlines has grounded its so-far single MAX-8. As a result, approximately one third of all 737 MAX aircraft around the world are currently being kept on the ground.
Despite pressure on social media from passengers, no North American carrier has yet grounded the aircraft type. North American operators being American Airlines, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines in the US, and Air Canada and WestJet in Canada. These airlines are currently responding to customers concerns accordingly.
Hi there, Chris. We currently have the 14 MAX-9. We have no MAX-8 or MAX-10 aircraft in our fleet. Please know that that the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft is safe and that our pilots are properly trained to fly the MAX aircraft safely. ^NE
— United Airlines (@united) March 11, 2019
Update – as of 13/3/19 1600UTC
The full list of countries and airlines that have specifically grounded or banned the Boeing 737 MAX (including those mentioned above):
- Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopia)
- Royal Air Maroc (Morocco)
- Comair Ltd. (South Africa)
- Cayman Airways (Cayman Islands)
- MIAT Mongolian Airlines (Mongolia)
- GOL Linhas Aéreas (Brazil)
- Aeromexico (Mexico)
- Aerolíneas Argentinas (Argentina) – pilots have refused to fly the aircraft
- SilkAir (Singapore)
- Eastar Jet (South Korea)
- Norwegian (Norway)
- Turkish Airlines (Turkey)
- Icelandair (Iceland)
- S7 Airlines (Russia)
- SCAT (Kazakhstan)
- Mauritania Airlines (Mauritania)
- Fiji Airways (Fiji)
- Sunwing Airlines (Canada)
- United Arabian Emirates
- New Zealand
- European Union (EASA)
- Switzerland (EASA)
- Norway (EASA)
- Iceland (EASA)
Earlier on March 12, a number of European nations banned operations of the 737 MAX including the UK, Germany and Italy. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have subsequently grounded all 737 MAX aircraft within the European Union. The US, Panama and Boeing are still standing by their support for the aircraft and it continues to operate in the region.
Update – as of 13/3/19 1610UTC
The only active Boeing 737 MAX operators are:
- American Airlines (USA)
- United Airlines (USA)
- Southwest (USA)
- Copa Airlines (Panama)
Update – as of 13/3/19 1845UTC
The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a grounding for the Boeing 737 MAX (effective immediately), following new evidence on the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302 and an order from US President Donald Trump.
Matt is a London-based reporter for IFN who has been involved in aviation from a very young age. He has a particular interest in aircraft safety, accidents and technical details.