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This article is more than 2 year old.

Boeing 737 MAX crisis deepens as more countries ground plane, global fleet down over 40% post-Ethiopian Air crash

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The global fleet of Boeing 737 MAX planes has reduced by 42 percent after the second deadly crash of the aircraft in Ethiopian Airlines’ ET 302 accident spooked operators. The reduction of MAX fleet by 157 planes is set to cause flight cancellations and disruption in aviation space as airlines will look to substitute these MAX planes with other options, which is seldom easy.

Boeing 737 MAX crisis deepens as more countries ground plane, global fleet down over 40% post-Ethiopian Air crash
The global fleet of Boeing 737 MAX planes has reduced by 42 percent after the second deadly crash of the aircraft in Ethiopian Airlines’ ET 302 accident spooked operators.
The reduction of MAX fleet by 157 planes is set to cause flight cancellations and disruption in aviation space as airlines will look to substitute these MAX planes with other options, which is seldom easy.
In the latest development, the UK, Germany, France and Oman have barred MAX planes from entering their airspace. Malaysia has also asked airlines not to operate MAX planes to or from its airports.
As per data collected from aircraft tracking website planespotters and airlines, 157 Boeing 737 MAX-8 planes have been taken out of service temporarily by 28 airlines across 18 nations.
The groundings follow the fatal accident of a Boeing 737 MAX plane, the ET 302 flight of Ethiopian Airlines causing the death of all 149 passengers and 8 crew members on board. This is the second fatal accident to Boeing 737 MAX aircraft within a span of five months.
While the information is yet to be assessed from the recovered flight recorders, it has been sufficiently established that the two disasters bore a lot of similarities, other than just the aircraft model.
“External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018. However, this investigation has just begun and to date, we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions,” the US aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said in a statement dated March 11.
The safety concerns, unavailability of sufficient information from Boeing and the absence of a reason for two fatal accidents in the same aircraft model within a span of under 5 months has triggered safety concerns among various countries and airlines.
Following the accident on March 10, China the largest operator of B737 MAX fleet in the world grounded all 96 MAX planes in the country across 13 airlines. This was followed by Indonesia, which also took out MAX planes out of service in its country.
Today, Singapore, a major aviation hub, and Australia went a step further and temporarily banned Boeing 737 MAX family aircraft from flying in their airspace.
It is for the first time since Monday that countries have taken to not only grounding but also keeping their airspace free of MAX planes. Airlines such as Cayman Airways, SilkAir, Morocco's Royal Air Maroc, South Africa’s Comair, Aeromexico of Mexico among others have also suspended MAX8 operations.
On the domestic front, Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has ordered additional measures in terms of training requirements for crew of 737 MAX, more engineering, maintenance checks and has asked SpiceJet and Jet Airways to ensure that only commanders with minimum 1,000 hours and first officers with minimum 500 hours of experience on 737 new generation fly the 737 MAX aircraft.
Now, while five of these planes of Jet Airways are grounded due to non-payment of dues to lessors, 12 of these planes of SpiceJet are active but in a statement today, SpiceJet has said that it believes that MAX is a highly sophisticated plane and it is actively engaged with DGCA and Boeing.
While Boeing is expected to come up with design changes for Max fleet by April, but so far, both FAA and DGCA have ruled out groundings.
It is important to note here that MAX has 4,700 orders and hence, a safety crisis like this has rocked the company’s share value as well. The stock witnessed its worst fall on the New York Stock Exchange since 2001.
Now, India still has not taken a call on the grounding of these planes and MAX planes of SpiceJet still continue to fly in the skies but looks like the pressure is mounting and airlines, countries and passengers are awaiting a certain kind of strong assurance from Boeing or FAA in this regard.
In the latest statement, Boeing maintains that it has full confidence in the 737 MAX.
“Safety is Boeing’s number one priority and we have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX. We understand that regulatory agencies and customers have made decisions that they believe are most appropriate for their home markets. We’ll continue to engage with them to ensure they have the information needed to have confidence in operating their fleets,” Boeing said in a statement.
As of now, 209 MAX planes continue to fly in global skies.
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