Staff Writer, Prya Oliveira
Recently, a Boeing 737 MAX 8 crashed on an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, that resulted in the death of 157 people. All passengers and crew aboard died, making this the second Boeing aircraft tragedy in five months. According to CNN, the first crash under Lion Air led to the death of 189 people over the Java Sea on Oct. 29, 13 minutes after taking off, but the Ethiopian Airlines flight went down only six minutes into the flight. Although it cannot be concluded that both of the crashes were connected, commentators suggested that all Boeing 737 MAX’s should be grounded. The Lion Air flight had a malfunction before going down, but the Ethiopian Airlines Flight didn’t face any malfunctions before its crash.
Many airlines, including Southwest, initially stated that they will not be grounding any Boeing planes. Chris Maniz, spokesperson for Southwest, commented, “We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of our fleet of more than 750 Boeing aircraft.” CEO Dennis Mullenberg commented further on why he refused to stop Boeing operations, “While difficult, I encourage everyone to stay focused on the important work we do. Our customers, business partners and stakeholders depend on us to deliver for them.” Flight attendants were not required to work on Boeing planes if they do not feel comfortable to do so, and it is understandable why they wouldn’t want to. The Trump administration decided on March 13 to ground all 737 MAX 8 jets.
Boeing recently ran into an issue where they did not disclose new safety features on the Lion Air plane that crashed, which pulled down the plane’s nose, making it hard for the pilots to control the aircraft. The FAA then required Boeing to update their flight manuals. Pilots in both these crashes tried to fly back to the airport within minutes of takeoff, but were unfortunately unable to. Again, it is unknown if the feature that resulted in the Lion Air crash also caused the Ethiopian Airlines crash, too.
The 737 MAX is the newest model, and fastest selling plane in Boeing’s history. Southwest has 31, American has 22, and United has 12. However, airlines out of the country have come together to either increase training for these specific planes or have stopped the 737 MAX’s from any further flights, until the investigation of the Ethiopian Airline tragedy is completed. The Washington Post published a list of companies that have the 737 MAX’s and explained what the companies were now going to do with planes. Right after the Ethiopian Airline crash, China’s Civil Aviation Administration commented that they have a zero tolerance for safety hazards, and they ordered all 737 MAX’s to be grounded. India’s Aviation Authority said that any crew on a 737 MAX 8 must undergo specific training, and only with pilots who hold 1,000 hours of flying experience may operate it. In Vietnam, the Civil Aviation Authority will refuse to license the use of the 737 MAX, until the investigation has been concluded. Morocco and Mongolia have decided to stop all operations of the 737 MAX 8 planes.
There was a heartfelt tweet from Antonio Guterres, U.N. Secretary-General in which he stated, “Deeply saddened by the news this morning of the plane crash in Ethiopia, claiming the lives of all on board. My heartfelt condolences to the families and loved ones of all the victims-including our own @UN Staff- who perished in this tragedy.” The release of the passenger list showed that there were 21 U.N. staff members, with 35 nationalities aboard, including eight people from both China and the United States, and 18 passengers from Canada.
It was a horrific day for the entire world, giving a sort of ‘reality check’ to aerospace companies like Boeing that, without proper safety procedures and checks, can result in the lives of many innocent people. The takeaway from this incident, if anything, is to be more cautious and aware of incidents that can occur and to note how transportation systems can be improved to make sure this never happens again. Another point to make is how interesting it is to see how different airlines around the world are handling this, news with implementing new regulations to ensure the safety of passengers on the 737 MAX’s, and how other airlines are choosing to remain trusting towards the aircraft.