I would love it if it were more possible to follow the facts and not the mob. We don’t yet know where the facts on the Ethiopian Airlines disaster will lead.
Although I think it’s perfectly reasonable to have concerns, based on what we know today I would not drive to avoid flying the MAX (driving isn’t as safe) and would not take a connecting itinerary to avoid it either (two takeoffs and landings).
After some wrangling over whether the black boxes from the Ethiopian aircraft would go to the US or London for analysis it seems likely they’ll be analyzed in Europe and not the United States.
That’s probably for the best, because the FAA is being accused of not being impartial in its judgment, based on its unwillingness to ground the MAX (neither has Canada) when many other governments have done so. The data will show what it shows, but conspiracy theorists might be more likely to complain about data released by the NTSB.
In the meantime American Airlines pilots have come out in support of the 737 MAX. Contrary to the Chinese regulator’s lack of confidence in their pilots flying aircraft manually,
The Allied Pilots Association (APA), representing the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, remains confident in the Boeing 737 Max and in our members’ ability to safely fly it.
The pilots for the world’s largest airline have the necessary training and experience to troubleshoot problems and take decisive actions on the flight deck to protect our passengers and crew.
They point out:
- Their experience with the aircraft has been exemplary, “We have reviewed data for more than 14,000 flights since the Lion Air Flight 610 accident in Indonesia last October, and we have not seen a single anomaly related to the MCAS.”
- The American Airlines MAXs have a difference, “The two dozen 737 Max aircraft in the American Airlines fleet are the only ones equipped with two AOA displays, one for each pilot, providing an extra layer of awareness and warning.”
Southwest Airlines says they’ve operated 41,000 737 MAX flights without incident but unlike American Airlines will waive costs for customers to change plans if they prefer to avoid the aircraft.
There have been US pilot reports of 737 MAX issues descending shortly after takeoff, though not related to the plane’s anti-stall systems. Both American and Southwest Airlines say those issues were not with their flights.
While it will be quite some time before we know the official probable cause, we’ll get much more solid indications of what happened in the Ethiopian crash — and what we should be doing about it — once the black boxes are looked at.
In the meantime I don’t believe regulators ought to ground the plane based on lack of information, but airlines shouldn’t impose costs on passengers wishing to avoid it either.