The US and Canada remain the only countries that have the Boeing 737 MAX 8 in their airspace, according to Flightradar24, following a decision by many countries’ aviation authorities and airlines to temporarily suspend their flights over the two deadly crashes in recent months.
Thus, there are only 5 companies, operating Boeing 737 Max 8, while other 3 airlines have jets of the US-based aircraft maker’s new best-selling series, Boeing 737 Max 9, in service. Some 350 MAX planes had been delivered to carriers all over the world by January 2019.
Despite the majority of airlines, operating Boeing 737 MAX 8, as well as aviation regulators, having decided to ban them from their airspace or not permit the plane to take off and land on their territory, the US authorities and several US companies have chosen to continue operating the Boeing in question.
A Tuesday statement by Acting FAA Administrator Daniel K Elwell said the agency "continues to review extensively all available data and aggregate safety performance from operators and pilots of the Boeing 373 MAX". It pointed out that their review “shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft". The two US companies, flying the aircraft, Southwest Airlines and American Airlines as well as their pilots’ associations, also defended the model as safe.
The FAA's stance has prompted a backlash from prominent politicians as well as passengers and aviation workers (flight attendants and ground crews).
Over half a dozen US lawmakers have written to the FAA requesting Elwell ground the US fleet, including Senators Elizabeth Warren, Mitt Romney, Ted Cruz, Richard Blumenthal, Bob Menendez, and Dianne Feinstein. Both the commerce committee of the House of Representatives and the Senate subcommittee on aviation and space promised to set up hearings on the matter.
“The Boeing 737 MAX 8 is a major driver of Boeing profits. In the coming weeks and months, Congress should hold hearings on whether an administration that famously refused to stand up to Saudi Arabia to protect Boeing arms sales has once again put lives at risk for the same reason", Democratic presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren stated, as cited by The Financial Times.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also called on the FAA to revise their decision.
“We recognise that federal places responsibility for air safety on the federal government. But more than a dozen governments around the world have already grounded the 737 Max, and the FAA should urgently consider the basis on which those governments have acted —- and move decisively to assure that the public’s safety is protected", his statement reads as cited by The Hill.
Canada was another country that chose not to ground the Boeing, although Transport Minister Marc Garneau promised he would “act immediately” if new data emerges.
Meanwhile, passengers have expressed their frustration on social media, sending messages to the US carriers, operating the jets and asking them to change flights to avoid Boeing's 737 Max 8. The unions for US flight attendants and ground crews have also urged their employers to take the plane out of service, according to CNBC.
Following the deadly crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 Sunday that killed 157 people, airlines and governments across the globe began grounding the 737 Max 8 aircraft. A similar issue had caused a crash by another 737 MAX 8 last October when Lion Air Flight 610 plunged into the Pacific Ocean shortly after departing Indonesia's Koekarno-Hatta Airport. Countries to ground their 737 MAX 8 fleets include China, India, Indonesia, Singapore and the European Union, together amounting to two-thirds of the world's 737 Max 8 jets. A preliminary report on the October tragedy found that pilots had been misled by a new feature on the plane's flight control system.