By: Keryn Nelson
Despite the seemingly global adverse reaction to the perceived blanket safety issues plaguing the Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, American Airline officials said on Monday, Mrach 11, that they were not join the bandwagon but would instead be sticking with the aircraft model, several of which service the Caribbean region.
If a passenger is not too keen on AA’s judgement, then they would be subject to standard itinerary change fees if they wished “to change their flights to avoid the plane.”
The safety of the 737 MAX 8, said to be Boeings most popular aircraft, is currently in question following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight ET302 — on board a Boeing 737 MAX 8 jet — from Addis Abba, Ethiopia to Nairobi, Kenya.
On Sunday, March 10, one of these jets reportedly crashed six minutes after take-off, resulting in the death of the 157 passengers and cabin crew on board. Witnesses say the aircraft was “smoking” and “swerving” before the crash.
“It hovered in the air and fire was coming from its tail,” eye witness, Gadasi Benti told the NY Times.
Sunday’s tragedy came nearly six months after Lion Air flight 610 — also a Boeing 737 MAX 8 — crashed around eleven minutes after take-off. The flight was bound to Pangkal Pinang, Indonesia from the country’s capital city, Jakarta. All 189 people on board lost their lives.
Information retrieved from the Lion Air plane’s black box, following the crash, revealed the pilot’s struggle with the plane moments before it hit the Java Sea at 450 mph. Although no definitive causes for the crash have been outlined, investigations suggested that a new system in the plane may have received bad data which activated its automatic anti-stall feature; forcing the plane’s nose downward repeatedly, despite the pilots’ efforts to keep it angled upright. Veteran pilots say the anti-stall feature can be deactivated by flicking two switches in the cockpit.
Prior to both crashes, it is said that different pilots who had previously flown the two airplanes reported having experienced technical issues. The cause of the Ethiopian Airline crash is still under investigation.
Meanwhile, Indonesia, Ethiopia, China, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, and Oman have all grounded the aircraft. Several airlines had 737 MAX 8 planes in operation, many still with pending orders. So far, at least 18 airlines have grounded these planes. American Airlines, which has 24 Boeing 737 MAX 8 planes in its fleet of 1000, has not. Currently, American Airlines flies its 737 MAX 8 airplanes to Piarco, Trinidad, and Puerto Plata, Dominican Republic.
“At this time there are no facts on the cause of the accident other than news reports,” said an American Airlines representative. The company says they will closely monitor the investigations into the cause of the Ethiopian Air crash.
Caribbean Airline Cayman Airways had two Boeing 737 Max 8 planes in its fleet. Both have been grounded.
Although in November 2018, Caribbean Airlines Limited (CAL) announced their plans to “enhance and renew its single-aisle fleet” with the 737 MAX-8 by adding 12 MAX airplanes to its fleet in the coming years, following the crash in Ethiopia, the carrier stated, “Caribbean Airlines currently does not have the Boeing MAX 8 aircraft as part of its fleet. The airline uses the Boeing 737-800 Next Generation aircraft.”
The airline also issued a statement claiming it would “comply with all regulations and instructions before any new aircraft is introduced to its fleet.” Media reports suggest CAL is expecting to receive new 737 MAX 8 planes at the end of this year and will continue to for the next three years.
The U.S Federation Aviation Administration maintains that the Boeing 737 MAX 8 is safe to fly.