The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued a vote of confidence in the 737 MAX 8 jet designed by Boeing Co. in the wake of the fatal crash in Ethiopia over the weekend.
The crash, which involved one of the airliner’s 737 MAX 8 options, was the second of its kind in the last five months. Sunday’s crash in Ethiopia led to the death of all 157 individuals on board, including crew members.
Boeing Has a Friend in the FAA
In a statement titled The Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community released on March 11, the aviation regulator sounded its confidence in the airworthiness of the Boeing 737 MAX 8.
In the statement, the agency argues that there still isn’t any conclusive evidence that links the crash of last weekend’s Ethiopia Airlines airliner with the previous disaster in Indonesia.
Last year, a MAX 8 jet belonging to Indonesia’s Lion Air crashed into the Java Sea, killing everyone onboard.
The agency noted:
“External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018. However, this investigation has just begun, and to date, we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions.’’
The cause of the March 10 disaster is still inconclusive, although recordings from the control tower indicated that the pilot experienced difficulties early in the flight. Eyewitness reports claim the jet was emitting flames before its descent.
The flight’s black box has been recovered, and it’s only a matter of weeks before regulators get clarity into Sunday’s disastrous crash.
A Planed Software Fix
As for Boeing, the jet maker is reportedly in the process of implementing improvements to the plane’s flight control system, and the FAA will also be releasing related directives to airline operators no later than next month.
The agency said that the proposed software fix would be released in conjunction with Boeing, and it will help to limit the downward push of the automated system, which was discovered to be one of the primary reasons for last year’s Lion Air crash.
According to the agency, the fix will also come with detailed updates to training manuals for crew members and pilots, providing explanations for the stall-prevention system and how it can be turned off in the event of a malfunction or ay related emergency.
Grounded Boeing 737 MAX 8 Jets
The FAA’s stance shows the government still hasn’t found any sufficient reason to ground the 737 MAX 8, even after two devastating crashes. Some U.S.-based air carriers, including American Airlines and Southwest Airlines, have also discarded concerns from passengers who have reservations about flying with the seemingly scrutinized jet.
This is in contrast to decisions taken by countries like China, United Kingdom, Cayman Islands, and Indonesia (unsurprisingly, since it was the site of the Lion Air crash). These countries, along with some other major airlines, have proceeded to ban the use of the plane in the interim.
Hi @SouthwestAir why aren’t you grounding the Boeing 737 Max 8? Can you help me change my flight so I won’t have to fly in a plane that the pilot can’t control?
— Sarah✨Babbss✨ (@sarahbabbss) March 12, 2019
Scared customers have taken to social media to air their grievances as they feel airlines should offer a waiver in the change fee for customers who want to avoid the MAX 8 plane.
Hi @AirCanada – given the recent issues with the Boeing 737 MAX 8, are you accomodating nervous passengers by allowing them to change their flight to one operated by another aircraft free of charge? I’m flying LAX – YVR in future and I’m not feeling too great about it at all.
— Amy (@amylouisehodge) March 12, 2019
After the FAA made its announcement, Brazil’s Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA and Mexico-based Grupo Aeromexico SAB, two of the largest airlines in Latin America, confirmed that they would be suspending 737 MAX flights.
Shares of Dow component Boeing (BA) also plunged 5.36 percent on March 11, closing at $400.01 and marking the biggest decline in the company’s stock since October 29, after the Lion Air crash.