Is the Boeing 737 Max 8 airworthy? It is according to the US Federal Aviation Administration. Yet with two recent crashes in the last six months, this statement is being doubted by government officials across the globe, with China being the first country to ban the flight of these aircraft until a full investigation is conducted.
Two crashes in six months – coincidence or aircraft fault?
The most recent tragedy occurred just last week, with an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashing six minutes after take-off from Addis Ababa, on the way to Nairobi. All 157 people on board were killed in the crash. Last October, a Lion Air 737 Max 8 crashed into the sea 12 minutes after take-off, with a death toll of 189. When both these major air disasters involve the same aircraft, it’s certainly a cause for concern, despite the FAA stating that the 737 is fit to fly.
China make decision to suspend flights
Regardless of the FAA decision, on Monday, China, in an unprecedented move ordered all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft be grounded pending further investigation. This made a total of 96 planes across a dozen carriers, about a quarter of all the 737 Max 8 planes in operation. Many other authorities have now also suspended flights including Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Mongolia, Morocco and Ethiopia. The latest to take similar action is Australia, placing a ban on these aircraft flying into or out of the country.
Pressure created for the FAA
The decision of so many authorities to ignore the advice of the FAA and ground these planes will no doubt cause quite an impact on the perceptions of the FAA within the aviation industry and beyond. Pressure will be on for the FAA to justify its statement and to make clear what will be done regarding the continued investigation of these fatal incidents. So far investigations into both crashes are ongoing, and work will be done to the jet’s automation software which may have played a role in the disasters.
Boeing share prices fall
It’s not surprising that Boeing, the world’s largest plane manufacturer has suffered a fall in share prices, closing 5% down on Monday. Currently nearly half of their fleet of 737 Max jets are grounded, with no clear indication of when they will be airborne again. The public are nervous too, with many wary passengers currently choosing not to fly on 737 Max 8s.