US(A) Against The World: US Airlines Still Flying MAX

by Chris Dong

Update: Minutes after this article was scheduled for publishing, President Trump himself announced the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX.


Canada has joined the long list of countries to ground the Boeing 737 MAX. In fact, the only countries not on the list are the US and Panama.

In the days following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, the spotlight has been on both Boeing and the operators of the 737 MAX aircraft. The crash had an eery similarity to one from October, Lion Air Flight 610. The number one parallel being both aircraft that went down were brand-new Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

Countries and Airlines That Have Banned The 737 MAX

There are 387 Boeing 737 MAX’s worldwide, with 74 registered in the US. Those 74 are split between Southwest Airlines (34), American Airlines (24), and United Airlines (14). American and Southwest are the only two airlines in the world that are still operating the 737 MAX 8, the specific MAX  version that crashed.

China was the first country to make an official ban of the 737 MAX plane. Then, many more countries and airlines joined the ranks. Here’s the full list of countries and airlines:

—Argentina (Aerolíneas Argentinas)
—Australia
—Brazil (GOL Linhas Aéreas)
—Canada
—Cayman Islands (Cayman Airways)
—China
—Ethiopia
—EASA member states (the E.U)
—Iceland (Icelandair)
—India
—Indonesia
—Italy
—Kazakhstan
—Malaysia
—Mexico (Aeromexico)
—Mongolia (MIAT Mongolian Airlines)
—Morocco (Royal Air Maroc)
—Norway (Norwegian)
—Oman
—Singapore
—South Africa (Comair)
—South Korea (Eastar Jet)
—Turkey

But Not The US… 🤔

Both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing are attempting to assure a wary general public that this aircraft is perfectly safe. But this story has gone mainstream, and people are rightfully doubting the safety of a plane that basically the entire world has temporarily suspended.

Southwest’s Boeing 737 MAX

Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg even reportedly had a call with President Donald Trump to assure him the safety of his company’s aircraft.

For years, Boeing has had a cozy relationship with Washington as a lobbyist. However, that closeness seems to have strengthened even more so with the current administration. Boeing donated $1 million to Trump’s inaugural campaign. US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley was just nominated to Boeing’s board. The acting secretary of defense, Patrick Shanahan, worked at Boeing for 30 years. There are other examples of close ties.

The FAA makes the ultimate call whether the MAX should continue to operate. And that place is dysfunctional AF. The WSJ had a great piece yesterday on the overall complacency of the FAA and Department of Transportation. Like the top job at the FAA being vacant for 14 months. Oy.

The Upshot

With the US the lone wolf here, how much has Boeing’s influence on Washington affected the FAA’s decision not to ground the plane? 

While no one knows for sure, I think it’s extremely interesting that the US is basically the only holdout. Clearly there are a lot of financial interests at stake for Boeing.

Yes, we aren’t sure what brought these two planes down. That investigation will still take quite some time. But public pressure is mounting and people are concerned about this plane — whether they know the facts or not. It’s probably only a matter of time before a grounding is reluctantly announced.

 

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