Boeing 737 MAX groundings

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Boeing 737 MAX groundings
Boeing 737-8 MAX N8704Q rotated.jpg
A Boeing 737 MAX 8 in Boeing livery
DateMarch 11, 2019 (2019-03-11) – ongoing (1 month and 12 days)
CauseFatal crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 and efforts to fix and certify MCAS
Deaths346 in total
  • 189 on Lion Air Flight 610
  • 157 on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302

In March 2019, airlines and governments around the world grounded the Boeing 737 MAX passenger airliner after two crashes within five months killed all 346 people on both flights. On October 29, 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea twelve minutes after takeoff with 189 passengers and crew. On March 10, 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed six minutes after takeoff with 157 passengers and crew. In each accident, the aircraft was less than four months old.

Attention quickly focused on the 737 MAX's newly introduced Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which automatically lowers the nose of the aircraft when sensors indicate that a stall may be imminent. Satellite tracking data showed that after takeoff, both aircraft experienced extreme fluctuations in vertical speed. Pilots in both aircraft radioed they had flight control problems and wanted to return to the airport.[1][2]

On March 11, Ethiopian Airlines announced it grounded its 737 MAX 8 fleet "effective yesterday March 10".[3][4] On March 11, the China Civil Aviation Administration, citing its zero-tolerance policy for any safety hazards, became the first government authority to ground its 737 MAX aircraft.[5][6] In the next two days, countries and airlines around the world either grounded or prohibited the aircraft from flying in their airspace.[7][8][9][10]

In the U.S., the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) initially stated it had not received any evidence to justify taking action against the 737 MAX.[11] On March 13 President Trump announced a policy reversal and said the U.S. would ground the aircraft.[12][13][14] The FAA explained that new information about the similarity of the two crashes supported the government's decision, and the agency said there was a "possibility of a shared cause" for the accidents.[15][12] The worldwide fleet of 737 MAX aircraft at the time of the FAA grounding was 387.[16]

While the airplanes are out of service, Boeing has been developing and evaluating a software fix to the MCAS that is subject to review by a panel of global aviation regulators.[17] Airline users of the 737 MAX have announced daily flight cancellations that are expected to extend through August 2019.[18]

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) Inspector General opened an investigation into the FAA's approval of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft series; the probe focuses on potential failures in the FAA's safety-review and certification process. The day after the Ethiopian Airlines crash, a federal grand jury issued a subpoena on behalf of the U.S. Justice Department for documents related to development of the 737 MAX.[19]

Background[edit]

Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS)[edit]

The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) was deployed on the 737 MAX to reduce the chance of the aircraft stalling. MCAS was designed to sense when the airplane might be in danger of climbing too steeply and to respond by automatically commanding the stabilizer in the tail to push the nose of the aircraft down. The system counteracts the airplane's tendency to pitch up under certain circumstances due to the aerodynamic effect of the aircraft's larger engines and their placement further forward and higher on the wings than on previous 737 models.[20] MCAS uses airspeed, altitude and angle of attack (AOA) data to detect when a dangerous condition may be imminent.[21]

MCAS acts on input from only one of the two AOA sensors mounted on the aircraft's exterior.[21][not in citation given] Boeing and the FAA decided that cockpit displays of the AOA and an AOA disagree alert, which signals if the sensors give different readings, were not critical features for safe operation and could be considered optional.[22] Consequently, Boeing charged extra for the features.[23][24] Following the crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 soon after takeoff, in which several technical experts implicated the MCAS,[25] Boeing announced a planned software upgrade that notifies pilots of a sensor failure. As neither crashed plane had the optional AOA features, Boeing said it would make the AOA-disagree alert a required feature on all future 737 MAX planes, but the angle of attack indicator would remain optional.[26][27][28] Investigators worked to determine why the angle of attack (AOA) sensor sent faulty data that triggered the MCAS system.[29][30]

On March 28, Boeing announced that the MCAS software modifications were completed and that certification requirements for pilots would be revised, subject to approval by the FAA and regulators in other countries.[31] On April 1, Boeing announced further delays to the software update as additional work was needed.[32] Canada and the European Union stated that they will conduct their own evaluations,[33] while the Civil Aviation Administration of China stated that it would independently review software updates.[34]

Lion Air Flight 610 crash[edit]

PK-LQP, the aircraft involved in the crash of Flight 610

On October 29, 2018, Lion Air Flight 610, a scheduled domestic flight operated by the Indonesian airline Lion Air from Soekarno–Hatta International Airport in Jakarta to Depati Amir Airport in Pangkal Pinang, crashed into the Java Sea 12 minutes after takeoff. All 189 passengers and crew were killed in the accident.[35][36][37][38]

The preliminary report tentatively attributed the accident to the erroneous AoA data and automatic nose-down trim commanded by MCAS.[39][40]

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash[edit]

ET-AVJ, the aircraft involved in the crash of Flight 302

On March 10, 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a scheduled international passenger flight operated by Ethiopian Airlines from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, Kenya, crashed six minutes after takeoff near Bishoftu, killing all 157 passengers and crew aboard the aircraft.[41][42][42][43][44]

Initial reports indicated that the Flight 302 pilot struggled to control the airplane in a manner similar to circumstances of the Lion Air crash.[45] A stabilizer trim jackscrew found in the wreckage of Ethiopian Flight 302 was set to put the aircraft into a dive.[46] Experts suggested this evidence further pointed to MCAS as at fault in the crash.[47][48] After the crash of flight ET302, Ethiopian Airlines spokesman Biniyam Demssie said in an interview that the procedures for disabling the MCAS were just previously incorporated into pilot training. "All the pilots flying the MAX received the training after the Indonesia crash," he said. "There was a directive by Boeing, so they took that training."[49] Ethiopia's transportation minister, Dagmawit Moges, said that initial data from the recovered flight data recorder of Ethiopian Flight 302 shows "clear similarities" with the crash of Lion Air Flight 610.[50]

A preliminary report on the crash indicated the pilots initially followed the correct Boeing procedure for shutting down MCAS and manually trimming the rear stabilizer. This action was ineffective. The pilots then re-enabled the MCAS and eventually lost control of the plane.[51][52] According to two aviation experts, manually trimming the rear stabilizer might have been ineffective because the manual crank will not work if the control yoke is pulled back due to aerodynamic forces that worsen with increased speed. This, however, applies to the older Boeing 737-200, and is not mentioned in the current 737 training manuals.[52] The Boeing 737 MAX manual explains that once a pilot disengages from the stabilizer trim that they should take manual control of the aircraft, but it does not say they should attempt to turn it back on.[53]

Pilot complaints[edit]

In addition to the crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, Boeing 737 MAX pilots in the United States registered several complaints about the way the jet performed in flight, including reports that pilots in the United States may have experienced similar issues to what happened in the Lion Air crash.[54] Several reports were filed in the Aviation Safety Reporting System in November 2018, including one where the captain "expressed concern that some systems such as the MCAS are not fully described in the aircraft Flight Manual."[55]

On March 13, 2019, it emerged that pilots on at least two 2018 flights in the U.S. filed safety concerns after the nose of a 737 MAX pitched down suddenly when they engaged the autopilot.[56] In response, the FAA made a statement, "Some of the reports reference possible issues with the autopilot/autothrottle, which is a separate system from MCAS, and/or acknowledge the problems could have been due to pilot error."[57] MCAS only activates if the autopilot is turned off.[58] Boeing had advised pilots to disengage autopilot in nose-down incidents, though MCAS initiates nose-down in response to stall incidents.[59][60]

Response[edit]

Timeline of regulatory responses[edit]

March 11[edit]

Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft of Shenzhen Airlines grounded at Shenzhen Bao'an International Airport in March 2019
  • China: The Civil Aviation Administration of China orders all domestic airlines to suspend operations of all 737 MAX 8 aircraft by 18:00 local time (10:00 GMT), pending the results of the investigation, thus grounding all 96 Boeing 737 MAX planes in China.[61][5]

March 12[edit]

  • Singapore: the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, "temporarily suspends" operation of all variants of the 737 MAX aircraft into and out of Singapore.[66]
  • India: Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) released a statement "DGCA has taken the decision to ground the 737 MAX aircraft immediately, pursuant to new inspections.[67]
  • Turkey: Turkish Civil Aviation Authority suspended flights of 737 MAX 8 and 9 type aircraft being operated by Turkish companies in Turkey, and stated that they are also reviewing the possibility of closing the country's airspace for the same.[68]
  • South Korea: Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport (MOLIT) advised Eastar Jet, the only airline of South Korea to possess Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to ground their models,[69] and three days later issued a NOTAM (Notice to Airmen) message to block all Boeing 737 MAX models from landing and departing from all domestic airports.[70]
  • Europe: The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) suspended all flight operations of all 737-8 MAX and 737-9 MAX aeroplanes in Europe. In addition, EASA published a Safety Directive, effective as of 19:00 UTC, suspending all commercial flights performed by third-country operators into, within or out of the EU of the above mentioned models[71]
  • United States: The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an affirmation of the continued airworthiness of the 737 MAX; major United States-based 737 MAX operators Southwest Airlines and American Airlines also expressed confidence.[72]
  • Canada: Minister of Transport Marc Garneau said it was premature to consider groundings and that, "If I had to fly somewhere on that type of aircraft today, I would."[73]

March 13[edit]

  • Canada: Minister of Transport Marc Garneau, prompted by receipt of new information,[74] said "There can't be any MAX 8 or MAX 9 flying into, out of or across Canada", effectively grounding all 737 MAX aircraft in Canadian airspace.[75]
  • United States: President Donald Trump announced on March 13, that United States authorities would ground all 737 MAX 8 and 9 aircraft in the United States.[76][77] After the President's announcement, the FAA officially ordered the grounding of all 737 MAX 8 and 9 operated by U.S. airlines or in the United States airspace.[78]
    • Airlines were allowed to make ferry flights with neither passengers nor flight attendants in order to reposition the aircraft in central locations.[79][80]
  • Panama: The Civil Aviation Authority grounded its aircraft.[9][10]

Impact on airborne flights[edit]

About 30 of the 737 MAX aircraft were flying in U.S. airspace when the FAA grounding order was announced. The airplanes were allowed to continue to their destinations and were then grounded.[81] In Europe, several flights were diverted when grounding orders were issued.[82][83] For example, an Israel-bound Norwegian Airlines 737 MAX aircraft returned to Stockholm, and two Turkish Airlines MAX aircraft flying to Britain, one to Gatwick Airport south of London and the other to Birmingham, turned around without landing and flew back to Turkey.[84][85]

Boeing response[edit]

In its first public statement after the second crash, the company said: "Boeing is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of the passengers and crew on Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a 737 MAX 8 airplane. We extend our heartfelt sympathies to the families and loved ones of the passengers and crew on board and stand ready to support the Ethiopian Airlines team. A Boeing technical team will be traveling to the crash site to provide technical assistance under the direction of the Ethiopia Accident Investigation Bureau and United States National Transportation Safety Board."[86]

Subsequently, in response to the grounding of the 737 MAX by non-U.S. countries and airlines, Boeing stated: "We have engaged our customers and regulators on concerns they may have — and would refer you to them to discuss their operations and decisions. Safety is our number one priority and we are taking every measure to fully understand all aspects of this accident, working closely with the investigating team and all regulatory authorities involved. The investigation is in its early stages, but at this point, based on the information available, we do not have any basis to issue new guidance to operators."[87] The company said "in light of" the crashes it would postpone the public rollout ceremony for the first completed Boeing 777X which had been scheduled for March 13.[88]

On March 11, Boeing announced that it had been working on upgrades to the MCAS flight control software, cockpit displays, operation manuals and crew training. Boeing said the upgrades were partly in response to the Lion Air crash, but not linked to the Ethiopian Airlines crash, and were to be deployed in coming weeks and to be made mandatory by an FAA Airworthiness Directive.[89][90] The FAA stated it anticipated clearing the software update by March 25, 2019, allowing Boeing to distribute it to the grounded fleets.[91]

Boeing issued a statement saying that pilots can always use manual trim control to override the flight control law, and that both the Flight Crew Operations Manual and the November 6 bulletin offer detailed procedures for handling incorrect angle-of-attack readings.[92] In the 737 Flight Crew Operations Manual Quick Reference Handbook, the trim instructions are under the MAX 8 aircraft runaway stabilizer checklist and filed under "additional information".[93] Based on satellite tracking data, aviation experts believe the MCAS may have been deployed erroneously during both crashes.[94]

In response to the FAA grounding the MAX aircraft on March 13, Boeing released another statement: "Boeing continues to have full confidence in the safety of the 737 MAX. However, after consultation with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and aviation authorities and its customers around the world, Boeing has determined — out of an abundance of caution and in order to reassure the flying public of the aircraft's safety — to recommend to the FAA the temporary suspension of operations of the entire global fleet of 371 737 MAX aircraft."[95]

On March 14, Boeing stated it would continue production of the 737 MAX series but was suspending deliveries to customers.[96] On April 5, the company announced it was temporarily cutting production of the 737 aircraft from 52 per month to 42 from mid-April.[97]

On April 4, 2019, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg acknowledged that MCAS played a role in both crashes. His comments came in response to public release of preliminary results of the Ethiopian Airlines accident investigation. He stated that it was "apparent that in both flights" MCAS activated due to "erroneous angle of attack information." He said that an MCAS software update and additional training and information for pilots would "eliminate the possibility of unintended MCAS activation and prevent an MCAS-related accident from ever happening again"[98]

Political response[edit]

As countries and airlines outside the U.S. began grounding their aircraft, the FAA issued a “continued airworthiness notification” to all global 737 MAX operators, stating that, to date, it had no evidence from the crashes to justify regulatory action regarding the aircraft.[99] Several western media outlets, including the Financial Times, New York Times, Fox News, and CNBC, questioned China's motives for grounding the aircraft by suggesting the action was either "politically motivated" or that China was "potentially benefiting from the grounding".[100][101][62][102][103]

On March 12 President Trump tweeted: "Airplanes are becoming far too complex to fly. Pilots are no longer needed, but rather computer scientists from MIT. I see it all the time in many products. Always seeking to go one unnecessary step further, when often old and simpler is far better."[104] After the tweet, Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg spoke by telephone with the president and gave assurances that the aircraft was safe.[105][106]

On March 13, with mounting pressure after the grounding of the aircraft by Canada,[77] Trump met Secretary of Transportation Elaine Chao, Acting Administrator of the FAA Daniel Elwell, and Muilenburg and agreed to ground the aircraft. The president said, "The FAA is preparing to make an announcement very shortly regarding the new information and physical evidence that we've received from the Ethiopia crash site and from other locations and through a couple of other complaints".[107][13]

The government has faced questions about the lack of a permanent administrator at the FAA since January 2018, two years of staff and budget cuts at the agency, and the recent government shutdown that delayed approval of a software upgrade for the 737 MAX after the Lion Air crash. The FAA responded that it is "under the strong leadership" of its acting head,[108] and Elwell said the shutdown "did not cause any delay in work on the software."[109] The 737 MAX controversy shed more light on Boeing's political influence in Washington, including lobbying efforts, donations to lawmakers and ties between government and industry.[110][111][112]

U.S. Senators Elizabeth Warren, Mitt Romney, Dianne Feinstein, Ted Cruz, Roger Wicker and Richard Blumenthal earlier were calling for the FAA to temporarily ground all 737 MAX 8 jets.[113][114][115] Ted Cruz and Roger Wicker announced their plans to hold a hearing at the United States Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security "to investigate these crashes, determine their contributing factors, and ensure that the United States aviation industry remains the safest in the world."[115] Elizabeth Warren accused the Trump administration of protecting Boeing, saying: "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."[116]

U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, who has the authority to suspend the 737 MAX 8, previously said that "If the FAA identifies an issue that affects safety, the department will take immediate and appropriate action."[114] On March 12, Chao and her staff flew on a Southwest Airlines 737 MAX 8 from Austin, Texas, to Washington, D.C., in an apparent act of support for the Boeing Company.[117]

On March 13, Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau reversed his decision not to ground the aircraft and banned all 737 MAX 8/9 aircraft from Canadian airspace.[118] He earlier had said he would board 737 MAX 8 "without hesitation",[119] and on March 12 had said that Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's government had no plans to ground the 737 MAX 8.[120] The Canadian Union of Public Employees had called on Air Canada "to at a minimum continue to offer reassignment to crew members who do not want to fly on this type of airplane. The safety of passengers and crews must be the absolute priority."[120]

Certification inquiry[edit]

The day after the Ethiopian Airlines crash, a subpoena was issued by a U.S. grand jury.[121][122] On March 19, 2019, the Department of Transportation requested the Office of Inspector General to conduct an audit on the 737 MAX certification process[123] and Congress also announced an investigation into the same process.[124] The FBI has joined the criminal investigation into the certification as well.[125][126]

On April 2, 2019, after receiving reports from whistleblowers regarding the training of FAA inspectors who reviewed the 737 MAX type certificate, the Senate Commerce Committee launched a second Congressional investigation; it focuses on FAA training of the inspectors.[127][128][129]

On March 17, 2019, The Seattle Times reported that an investigation it conducted raised concerns about certification of MCAS five days before the Ethiopian Airlines crash.[130] The report stated:

  • The FAA routinely delegates a degree of safety analysis to the manufacturer,[131] but some FAA insiders felt delegation of certification had gone too far. Sources at the agency said they were repeatedly pressured to delegate to Boeing, which was under pressure to compete with the Airbus A320neo family, and Boeing needed the 737 MAX to be certified quickly.
  • MCAS failure was potentially rated incorrectly as "hazardous" rather than "catastrophic". The system relied on a single sensor, an unusual and inappropriate design for the lower rating, and certainly incorrect if failure should have been rated catastrophic.
  • By the time the 737 MAX was operational, MCAS could command stabilizer deflection more than four times greater than certified. Regulators and airlines were only informed of the greatly increased capability after the Lion Air crash.
  • Safety analysis appeared to overlook that MCAS could reset itself and repeatedly pitch the aircraft down.
  • MCAS was supposed to operate only in "extreme" situations, so "Boeing decided that 737 pilots needed no extra training on the system — and indeed that they didn't even need to know about it. It was not mentioned in their flight manuals." Minimizing pilot training was a big saving for aircraft customers and "a key selling point" for the 737 MAX.[130]

On April 19, it was announced that nine civil Aviation Authority experts would be participating in the certification investigation.[132]

Groundings by countries/regions and airlines[edit]

Countries/regions[edit]

As a result of the Flight 302 accident, aviation authorities and airlines began grounding the Boeing 737 MAX due to safety concerns.[133]

Day Authority
March 11 China China[61][5][134]
Indonesia Indonesia[135]
March 12 Australia Australia[136]
Austria Austria[137]
Belgium Belgium[138]
Bermuda Bermuda[139]
Cayman Islands Cayman Islands[140]
Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea[141]
European Union European Union[142][a]
Fiji Fiji[143]
France France[144]
Germany Germany[145]
Greece Greece[146]
Republic of Ireland Ireland[147]
Italy Italy[148]
Malaysia Malaysia[149][150]
Netherlands Netherlands[151][152]
Oman Oman[153]
Poland Poland[154]
Portugal Portugal[155]
Romania Romania[156]
Singapore Singapore[66]
United Arab Emirates UAE[157]
United Kingdom United Kingdom[158]
Vietnam Vietnam[159]
March 13 Albania Albania[160]
Armenia Armenia[161]
Bangladesh Bangladesh[162]
Brazil Brazil[163]
Brunei Brunei[164]
Bulgaria Bulgaria[165]
Canada Canada[118]
Chile Chile[166]
Colombia Colombia[167]
Costa Rica Costa Rica[168]
Cyprus Cyprus[169]
Denmark Denmark[170]
Djibouti Djibouti[171]
Egypt Egypt[172]
Georgia (country) Georgia[173]
Hong Kong Hong Kong[174]
India India[175]
Iraq Iraq[176]
Israel Israel[177]
Jamaica Jamaica[178]
Kosovo Kosovo[179]
Kuwait Kuwait[180]
Lebanon Lebanon[181]
Macau Macau[182]
Moldova Moldova[183]
Montenegro Montenegro[184]
Namibia Namibia[185]
New Zealand New Zealand[186]
Nigeria Nigeria[187]
North Macedonia North Macedonia[188]
Panama Panama[189]
Senegal Senegal[190]
Seychelles Seychelles[191]
Thailand Thailand[192]
Trinidad and Tobago Trinidad and Tobago[193]
Turkey Turkey[194]
Ukraine Ukraine[195]
United States United States[196]
Uzbekistan Uzbekistan[197]
March 14 Belarus Belarus[198]
Bosnia and Herzegovina Bosnia and Herzegovina[199]
Ethiopia Ethiopia[200]
Gabon Gabon[201]
Japan Japan[202]
Kazakhstan Kazakhstan[203]
Kiribati Kiribati[204]
MexicoMexico[205]
Papua New Guinea Papua New Guinea[206]
Russia Russia[207]
Rwanda Rwanda[208]
Serbia Serbia[209]
South Korea South Korea[210]
Taiwan Taiwan[211][b]
March 15 Guatemala Guatemala[213]
Iran Iran[214]
Paraguay Paraguay[215]
March 17 Argentina Argentina[216]
March 18 Algeria Algeria[217]
Uruguay Uruguay[218]
  1. ^ covers the European Union and the European Free Trade Association members
  2. ^ CAA had claimed earlier that day that a ban was unnecessary, citing Japan as an example.[212]

Airlines[edit]

After the Ethiopian Air crash, some airlines proactively grounded their fleets whereas others had their fleet grounded due to regulatory bodies banning flight of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in their airspace. This list of all airlines possessing grounded Boeing 737 MAX is ordered by operator name and is current as of 19:00 UTC, March 28 2019[210] (includes pre-delivered aircraft located at Boeing Field, Renton Municipal Airport and Paine Field airports):

Airline Date Fleet size Remarks
9 Air March 12 3 [210]
Aerolíneas Argentinas March 11 5 [210][219][220]
Aeroméxico March 12 6 [210][221]
Air Canada March 13 24 [210][222]
Air China March 11 15 [210]
Air Italy March 12 4 [210]
American Airlines March 13 24 [210]
Cayman Airways March 11 2 [210][223]
China Eastern Airlines March 11 3 [210]
China Southern Airlines March 11 24 [210]
Comair March 11 2 [210][224]
Copa Airlines March 13 6 [210][225][10]
Corendon Airlines March 12 1 [210]
Eastar Jet March 11 2 [210]
Enter Air March 12 2 [210]
Ethiopian Airlines March 11 4 [210][226][227]
Fiji Airways March 12 2 [210]
Flydubai March 12 15 [210][228]
Fuzhou Airlines March 11 2 [210]
Garuda Indonesia March 11 1 [210]
Gol Transportes Aéreos March 11 7 [210][229][230]
Hainan Airlines March 11 11 [210]
Icelandair March 12 6 [210][231]
Jet Airways March 12 8 [210][232]
Kunming Airlines March 11 2 [210]
Lion Air March 11 10 [210]
LOT Polish Airlines March 12 5 [210][233]
Lucky Air March 11 3 [210]
Mauritania Airlines March 12 1 [210][234]
MIAT Mongolian Airlines March 11 1 [210][235]
Norwegian Air International March 12 9 [210][236]
Norwegian Air Shuttle March 12 6 [210]
Norwegian Air Sweden March 12 3 [210]
Okay Airways March 11 2 [210]
Oman Air March 15 5 [210][237]
Royal Air Maroc March 11 2 [210][238]
S7 Airlines March 12 2 [210][239]
Samoa Airways Unknown 1 [210]
SCAT Airlines March 13 1 [210]
Shandong Airlines March 11 7 [210]
Shanghai Airlines March 11 12 [210]
Shenzhen Airlines March 11 6 [210]
SilkAir March 12 6 [210]
Smartwings March 12 8 [210]
Southwest Airlines March 13 34 [210]
SpiceJet March 13 13 [210][240]
Sunwing Airlines March 12 4 [210][241]
Thai Lion Air March 13 3 [210]
TUI Airways March 12 6 [210]
TUI fly Belgium March 12 4 [210]
TUI fly Deutschland Unknown 1 [210]
TUI fly Netherlands March 12 3 [210][151]
TUI fly Nordic March 12 2 [210]
Turkish Airlines March 12 14 [210][68]
United Airlines March 13 14 [210]
WestJet March 13 13 [210]
XiamenAir March 11 10 [210]
Total 393

Financial impact[edit]

Airline demands for compensation[edit]

On March 13, Norwegian Air became the first airline publicly demanding compensation from Boeing for the costs of the groundings of the 737 MAX. CEO Bjørn Kjos said, "It is quite obvious we will not take the cost related to the new aircraft that we have to park temporarily, we will send this bill to those who produce this aircraft."[242] India's SpiceJet also announced that they will seek compensation from Boeing. A senior official said, "We will seek compensation from Boeing for the grounding of the aircraft. We will also seek recompense for revenue loss and any kind of maintenance or technical overhaul that the aircraft will have to undergo. This is part of the contract, which we signed with Boeing for all the 737 MAX aircraft".[243] On April 10 state-owned China Eastern requested compensation from Boeing over the disruptions.[244]

Litigation on behalf of deceased passengers[edit]

Unlike the maximum claim by a passenger against an airline, which is limited by international treaty, claims directed against the manufacturer are not subject to a preset limit. In addition to other claims, representatives of passengers on Flight 302 may be able to argue that Boeing knew (or should have known, or contemplated) the risk of a crash, from knowledge of the MCAS and previous issues, including the earlier Lion Air crash, potentially opening a route to punitive damages.[245]

The United States has a wide ranging legal structure for damages claims that is expansive and often plaintiff-friendly. According to lawyers involved in passenger claims, Boeing may therefore attempt to argue that claims on behalf of deceased passengers should be heard in other countries.[245]

Order cancellations[edit]

At the time of the grounding, Boeing had 4,636 unfilled orders worldwide for the 737 MAX.[246] Following the grounding, Boeing suspended deliveries of 737 MAX aircraft to customers, but did not halt production of the aircraft. Analysts estimated that each month of the grounding could result in a delay of $1.8 billion in revenue to the company.[247] The total magnitude of the unfilled orders was estimated at $600 billion.[248]

The first announcement of plans for cancellation took place on March 11, the day after the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, when Bloomberg News reported that Lion Air planned to drop a $22 billion order with Boeing in favor of Airbus aircraft.[249] The first cancellation was announced on March 14 when Indonesian flag carrier Garuda Indonesia announced the cancellation of 49 orders for the aircraft, citing "concerns on the safety of passengers".[250] Garuda stated that it was talking to Boeing about whether or not to return the single aircraft already received, and considering replacing the 737 MAX order with a different Boeing model, not necessarily replacing Boeing as its supplier.[251] On March 22, Garuda Indonesia's spokesperson Ikhsan Rosan said "Our passengers have lost confidence to fly with the Max 8."[252][253]

Stock price[edit]

In the days following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10, Boeing stock price went down. By March 14 the stock lost 11% of its value.[248] By March 23 the stock had lost 18% of its value, which represented a $40 billion drop in market capitalization.[254]

On April 8, 2019, Bank of America downgraded Boeing's stock after production of the 737 MAX was reduced.[255]

On April 10 a class action lawsuit was filed against Boeing in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois by a shareholder who accused the company of "covering up safety problems with its 737 Max".[256]

Return to service[edit]

International agreements allow for aviation regulatory agencies worldwide to certify an aircraft type based on the certification of the regulatory agency where the aircraft is built, and do not review those certifications in much detail.[257] In this case the Boeing 737 MAX series is certified by the United States FAA, and a return to service locally and internationally requires updated certification by the FAA first.[257] The European Aviation Safety Agency and Transport Canada announced they will do their own safety verifications before letting the 737 MAX fly again in their territories, and will no longer accept the United States FAA certification as is for this aircraft.[257] Around March 20, 2019, Boeing announced it would make an additional safety feature on the plane model standard.[258]

The FAA seeks consensus with other regulators to approve the return to service, to avoid suspicion of collusion with Boeing.[259] On April 1, 2019, FAA said Boeing’s software fix for 737 MAX is still weeks away from delivery to FAA. This is an updated statement as Boeing previously told the public it is awaiting certification on the new software by the end of March.[260][261]

On April 11, Boeing CEO Dennis Mullenburg said that the 737 MAX had completed 96 test flights with the new updated software. The software fix is expected to be delivered to the FAA "within the next two weeks."[262][263]

For fleet scheduling and flight booking purposes, Southwest and American Airlines expect the 737 MAX to remain grounded (and flights canceled) until August 2019.[18]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Lazo, Luz; Laris, Michael; Lori, Aratani; Damian, Paletta (March 13, 2019). "FAA's emergency order grounding Boeing jets came after the agency identified similarities between crashes in Ethiopia, Indonesia". The Washington Post. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  2. ^ Beech, Hannah; Suhartono, Muktita (March 20, 2019). "Confusion, Then Prayer, in Cockpit of Doomed Lion Air Jet". The New York Times. Retrieved March 21, 2019.
  3. ^ Ethiopian Airlines [@flyethiopian] (March 10, 2019). "Accident Bulletin no. 5 Issued on March 11, 2019 at 07:08 AM Local Time" (Tweet) – via Twitter.
  4. ^ "Ethiopian Airlines grounds its Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet". Reuters. March 11, 2019.
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