The 737-MAX8 – Exactly What Is Going On?

So what’s going on with Boeing’s replacement for the next generation of 737?  One crash of a brand new airplane is an anomaly.  But two?  Isn’t that a bit more than a coincidence?  First came the Lion Air Flight 610 crash in October 2018 that happened within 20 minutes of takeoff.  And this weekend brought us the crash of Ethiopian Air Flight 302, which crashed just minutes after taking off from Addis Ababa.  The first flight had 189 souls aboard, the second 157.  And neither crash left any survivors.

Airline crashes have become fewer and farther between thanks to newer, safer aircraft, as well as better trained flight crews, as well as crew resource management.  So what is it about these brand new aircraft crashing after takeoff?

In the case of the first crash, it took a while to get the black boxes.  But in the case of the crash this weekend, both black boxes were retrieved almost immediately.

Yes, these planes are supposed to be safe.  But two crashes tell a story – and not a particularly good one.  In response, airlines around the world have chosen to ground their fleets of 737-MAX8 aircraft.  But not so in the United States.  Both Southwest and American, who have sizeable fleets that include the 737-MAX8 aircraft have said they are standing behind their maintenance people and declaring the planes perfectly safe for flying.

But what seems to be worse is the flying public, justifiably is nervous.  People want to avoid the 737-MAX8 if at all possible.  But carriers like American have told people that they have non-refundable tickets, and therefore cannot change their plans.  Bad PR, American!  Even United is ahead of you on this.  And while United doesn’t fly the 737-MAX8, but rather flies the sister aircraft, the 737-MAX9, they are even offering to adjust people’s itineraries to keep them off the 737-MAX9 if they want.  Seems American Airlines needs to take its collective head out of its tuchus and recognize that people have legitimate concerns, whether they want to stand behind the plane or not.  And Southwest?  Their boilerplate “Our planes are fine” statements that I’ve seen on Twitter don’t quite inspire confidence.

So here’s to hopefully getting to the bottom of the problem with the 737-MAX8 and sister aircraft as soon as possible.  Waiting 11 years, like the issue with the Airbus A300/A310 rudder problem, isn’t really an option.

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