United States and Canada Follow Europe, Ban 737 MAX Operations

A 737 MAX 9 pulling into the gate at Houston IAH. (Photo: AirlineGeeks | Mateen Kontoravdis)

Canada announced the decision to ban the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on Wednesday. A short time later the United States made the same decision with President Trump announcing “all of those planes are grounded effectively immediately.” This follows the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 on Sunday.

Boeing shortly after announced a global ban of the aircraft. The manufacturer said rather reluctantly they have made the decision “after consultation with the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), and aviation authorities and 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 MAX aircraft.”

The FAA declared an Emergency Order, effective immediately, prohibiting the operation of Boeing Model 737-8 and 737-9 MAX airplanes by U.S. certificated operators. They said the decision was made as a result of “data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today. This evidence, together with newly refined satellite data available to FAA this morning, lead to this decision.”

Air Canada and WestJet responded to Transport Canada’s banning of the Boeing 737 MAX by grounding their respective fleets. Sunwing, the third airline with MAXs based in Canada, pre-emptively grounded their fleet the day before.

Transport Canada held a press conference where Transport Minister Marc Garneau issued a statement declaring the decision to ban the aircraft from entering Canadain airspace as a “precautionary measure.”

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administrations’s statement on March 12 said their review of the situation “shows no systemic performance issues and provide no basis to order grounding the aircraft. Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action.”

The decision to ban the type in the U.S. will affect Southwest Airlines, American Airlines and United Airlines.

American Airlines currently flies 24 737 MAX 8s with another 76 due to delivered in the coming years, it was due to fly 87 flights tomorrow with their MAX aircraft.

Southwest, which has around 35 737 MAX 8 jets in service and the most in the U.S., has one of the largest orders of MAX aircraft with 275 due to arrive over the next 5 to 10 years. The airline was due to operate 163 flights tomorrow with the MAX

United Airlines operates 14 of the larger 737 MAX 9s and was scheduled to operate 42 flights tomorrow. It is due to take another 71 of the variant as well as 100 737 MAX 10s with deliveries to begin next year.

In Canada, WetJet has 13 737 MAX aircraft currently in its fleet and said they respected the decision by Transport Canada and that would comply by “temporarily ground the Boeing 737 MAX fleet.”

Air Canada, who operates a regular service from Halifax to London Heathrow using a Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, canceled flights AC860 and AC861 on March 13.

The airline aims to rebook passengers affected by cancelations to travel via the airline’s other hubs of Montreal, Toronto and Ottawa hubs but stresses the airline “fully supports this decision and will continue to work with Transport Canda towards a resolution of this situation as soon as possible.”

Sunwing, a Canadian low-cost airline operating out of Montreal and Toronto, currently has four 737 MAX 8 aircraft complimenting another 39 737-800. It is due to receive two more MAXs in the future.

The airline voluntarily grounded the fleet a day prior to Transport Canada’s announcement saying on Tuesday that they were “in the process of revising our flying schedule to accommodate the temporary removal of our MAX aircraft from service.”

The announcements today complete the global circle after China became the first country to ban the MAX leading to many others doing the same. Both the manufacturer and the home authority have now done so, with Boeing, in the end, buckling under public pressure following a second crash in five months of a brand new jet.

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James Dinsdale

James is a keen aviation enthusiast from the United Kingdom. He has been flying since the age of 13 and today, aged 23, flies the Airbus A319/320 series for one of Europe's largest airlines.
James Dinsdale
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