2019 Boeing 737 MAX crisis
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Seventeen months after the Boeing 737 MAX 8 entered service in 2017, Lion Air Flight 610, a relatively new 737 MAX 8 aircraft crashed minutes after takeoff in October 2018, killing 189 passengers and crew. Roughly five months later in March 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed six minutes after takeoff, killing 157 passengers and crew. A total of 346 people have been killed in both accidents
Due to the investigation of the first accident not being completed at the time of the second accident, and the fact that both aircraft accidents occurred shortly after takeoff, multiple airline carriers have grounded their Boeing 737 MAX fleets either voluntarily or by order of their local aviation regulatory authorities.
Timeline and context
On 29 October 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. It became the second deadliest airplane accident in Indonesia, only behind Garuda Indonesia Flight 152.
The Lion Air accident has been tentatively tied to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), a new system installed on the MAX 8 series. The design of the MAX 8 can cause the nose to pitch up higher than usual, which could lead to a stall. The MCAS senses the amount of lift on the aircraft's nose, and automatically adjusts the aircraft's attitude to lower the nose and avoid the stall. With the Lion Air accident, investigators found that the pilots were not trained on this system, so that when it engaged, probably erroneously, the crew fought against the MCAS' control, likely leading to the crash. There was evidence that the MCAS had faulty sensor data regarding the aircraft's angle of attack.
On 10 March 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, the aircraft crashed six minutes after takeoff near Bishoftu, killing all 157 passengers and crew aboard the aircraft. It is the deadliest aircraft accident to occur in Ethiopia, superseding the crash of an Ethiopian Air Force Antonov An-26 in 1982, which killed 73.
While the cause of the Ethiopian Air flight crash has not yet been determined, the preliminary investigation shows aircraft behavior, prior to the crash, similar to the Lion Air accident.
- China: the Civil Aviation Administration of China ordered all domestic airlines to suspend operations of all 737 MAX aircraft operated by Chinese carriers, pending the results of the investigation, grounding 96 aircraft citing "zero tolerance for safety hazards."
- Indonesia: the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation issued a temporary suspension on the operation of every Boeing 737 MAX 8 in Indonesia, 11 in all. A nationwide inspection on the type is expected to take place on 12 March to "ensure that aircraft operating in Indonesia are in an airworthy condition."
- India: Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) announced that "The minimum experience level of crew operating B737 Max aircraft to fly as PIC (Pilot-in-Command) is 1,000 hours and co-pilot is 500 hours on Boeing 737 NG aircraft type,"
- United States: the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said they will assist the Ethiopian authorities investigating the crash.
- United Kingdom: the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said in a statement "There are currently five Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft registered and operational in the United Kingdom," "The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is responsible for certifying all Boeing 737 Max 8 models and it is the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) that validates this certification across the EU, including the UK," and that "the CAA is working closely with the EASA".
- European Union: European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said in a statement "we will immediately publish any further information on our website as the necessary information is available."
As a result of the Flight 302 accident, aviation authorities and airlines began grounding the Boeing 737 MAX due to safety concerns.
- The Civil Aviation Administration of China ordered all domestic airlines to suspend operations of all 737 MAX aircraft operated by Chinese carriers, pending the results of the investigation, grounding 96 aircraft. This suspensions covers Chinese regulated airlines Shenzhen Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Air China, Okay Airways, Kunming Airlines.
- A similar response was enacted by Cayman Airways, which suspended operation of its two 737 MAX aircraft until further notice.
- Ethiopian Airlines, which operates four other Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft aside from the downed aircraft, announced that it had grounded its remaining 737 MAX fleet with immediate effect.
- On 11 March, the Indonesian Ministry of Transportation issued a temporary suspension on the operation of all 11 Boeing 737 MAX 8 in Indonesia. A nationwide inspection on the type is expected to take place on 12 March. This covers Garuda Indonesia and Lion Air
- In Morocco, Royal Air Maroc voluntarily grounded its 737 MAXs.
- South Africa's Comair grounded the only 737 MAX 8 in its fleet.
Multiple airlines expressed confidence in continuing to operate the Boeing 737 MAX.
- American Airlines, which operates 24 737 MAX 8 aircraft in its fleet, released the following statement: "At this time there are no facts on the cause of the accident other than news reports" "We have full confidence in the aircraft and our crew members, who are the best and most experienced in the industry."
- Southwest Airlines, which operates 34 737 MAX 8 in its fleet, released the following statement: "We remain confident in the safety and airworthiness of our fleet of more than 750 Boeing aircraft"
- Norwegian Air Shuttle, which operates 18 737 MAX 8 in its fleet, released the following statement: "We are in close dialogue with Boeing and follow their and the aviation authorities' instructions and recommendations," "Our passengers' safety is and will always be our top priority."
- Aerolíneas Argentinas, which operates 5 737 MAX 8 in its fleet, said it would continue to use the type and had formed a working group to review further developments.
- TUI, which operates 15 737 MAX 8 in its fleet, released the following statement: "We do not comment on any speculation and we are, as always, in close contact with the manufacturer," "We have no indication that we can't operate our 737 MAX in a safe way like we do with all other planes in our network."
- SilkAir, which operates 6 737 MAX 8 in its fleet, released the following statement: "At this point SilkAir's 737 MAX 8 flights are operating as scheduled"
- Fiji Airways, which operates 2 737 MAX 8 in its fleet, released the following statement: "We have full confidence in the airworthiness of our entire fleet"
- Icelandair, which operates 3 737 MAX 8 in its fleet, released the following statement: "At this stage, Icelandair is not taking any action following recent events, but we will, however, follow any developments closely and continue to do all we can to ensure safety on board now as before"
- Flydubai, which operates 11 737 MAX 8 in its fleet, released the following statement: "remain(s) confident in the airworthiness of our fleet.""We are monitoring the situation and continue to be in touch with Boeing... The safety of our passengers and crew is our first priority," "The aviation sector is highly regulated and Flydubai rigorously adheres to all regulations,"
- WestJet, which operates 13 737 MAX 8 in its fleet, released the following statement: "We are monitoring the situation closely and will not speculate on the cause of the incident," "WestJet remains confident in the safety of our Boeing 737 fleet including our 13 MAX-8 aircraft first introduced in 2017."
- GOL Linhas Aéreas, which operates 7 737 MAX 8 in its fleet, released the following statement: "GOL continues to follow the investigations and maintains close contact with Boeing for clarification," "The company reiterates confidence in the safety of its fleet."
- S7 Airlines, which operates 2 737 MAX 8 in its fleet, released the following statement."So far, no recommendations from Boeing on the need to suspend flights to the Boeing 737 MAX have been received by the airline"
Boeing Commercial Airplanes, the manufacturer of the 737 MAX, released the following statement: "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 U.S. National Transportation Safety Board."
In a later response to the grounding of the aircraft, a spokesperson for Boeing released the following statement: "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." 
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