What is the real story behind Boeing’s new 737 Max, and what does it mean for passengers scheduled to fly on the latest single-aisle aircraft?
Boeing claims that it’s beaming new aircraft offers the highest reliability, flexibility, and efficiency in the single-aisle market. And, airlines are buying it, literally, with over 4700 orders from more than 100 customers, making it the fastest-selling airplane in Boeing history. But what happens when things don’t go as planned? 346 people are left dead as a result of fatal crashes involving the 737 Max.
Two fatal crashes within five months have led to intense scrutiny, subsequently grounding the Boeing 737 Max worldwide until later this year. On October 29, 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia killing all 189 people on board. Boeing settled the first Lion Air lawsuit on September 26, 2019 to a tune of $1.2 million each to some of the families who lost loved ones in the crash. Soon after the Lion Air crash, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, crashed near the town of Bishoftu, Ethiopia in March 2019; only six minutes after take-off killing 157 people.
Here’s what you need to know.
What airlines use the 737 Max?
More than 100 airlines have purchased the 737 Max. Some of the well-known companies which added the new Boeing to their fleet include: Southwest, United, Alaskan Airlines, American, AeroMexico, Air Canada, Air China, Copa, Ethiopian Airlines, Korean Air, Malaysian Air, Qatar, and Virgin Australia.
When will the 737 Max fly again?
The 737 Max has been grounded since March 2019 worldwide. There is no set date on when the operation will resume; however, there is a possibility that flights could return between November and December of this year.
Is the 737 Max safe?
There have been no accidents involving the 737 Max in the US; in large part due to comprehensive regulations and strict maintenance programs administered by the airlines and overseen by the FAA. Boeing is finalizing updates to software, while Fox Business states that “the new head of the Federal Aviation Administration reassured the American people that the Boeing 737 Max jets would not return to the skies until he is 100 percent certain it can safely fly again.”
What happens if I am scheduled to fly on the Boeing 737 Max while it is grounded?
With the Max removed from the schedule, airlines are forced to shift flights. According to CNBC, United may cancel nearly 95 flights a day through November 2. The company is working to minimize the effects on customers who have booked a trip by swapping other planes in the fleet.
Southwest stated, on its website in March, that the Max represents less than 5% of the airline’s daily operations. Therefore a limited number of customers should be affected during the temporary removal of the aircraft. Booked passengers will be proactively notified about travel plans.
American Airlines’ website lists helpful tips regarding upcoming flights on the 737 Max. In total American Airlines will cancel approximately 140 flights per day. An American Airlines Reservation team member will contact passengers by email or phone. If you choose not to rebook your trip, you will be issued a full refund.
While things are still up in the air, airlines are doing their best to accommodate booked passengers of the 737 Max until flights resume. Due to such strict federal guidelines, operations will not get off the ground until there is certainty that the aircraft is safe.