As a controversial jetliner returns to the skies, many passengers are worried about the Boeing 737 Max and air safety.
The Boeing 737 Max was meant to introduce the next generation of jetliners when it launched in 2017. But a pair of crashes in its first 2 years of operation brought rise to serious questions about the Boeing 737 Max and air safety. The model was officially grounded in March 2019 — but it made a return in November 2020.
Should passengers feel safe flying on Boeing’s 737 Max? And should Executives feel comfortable allowing their Travelers to fly on the Boeing 737 Max? The recurring issue that caused the crashes has been resolved, according to the manufacturer, but any Traveler might still feel uneasy boarding one. Here’s a look at what went wrong with the Boeing 737 Max in its early months, as well as what to expect from it now.
Why is the Boeing 737 Max Considered Dangerous?
In October 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea shortly after departing Jakarta, Indonesia. All 189 passengers and crew were killed in the accident. In March 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed shortly after departing Nairobi, Kenya.
The cause of both crashes was the same — a failure of the jet’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). The MCAS malfunction forced the nose of the jet into a dive in both cases, and the crews were unable to diagnose and repair the malfunction before it was too late.
What Changes Has Boeing Made?
Boeing updated the 737 Max’s software so that the MCAS would no longer malfunction, and Boeing as a company has focused on “improving its safety practices and culture” since the 2 crashes. In addition, all pilots of the Boeing 737 Max must complete fresh training.
Many of the world’s leading aviation authorities have approved these changes and allowed the Boeing 737 Max to return to the skies, including the US Federal Aviation Administration, Transport Canada, and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency.
What Airlines are Now Flying the Boeing 737 Max?
Before the Boeing 737 Max experienced safety issues, airlines around the world had placed orders to add the new jetliner to their fleets. In total 387 finished 737 Max jetliners have been delivered out of a total of 4,082 orders placed.
On what airlines are you likely to fly on a Boeing 737 Max? American became the first domestic airline to reintroduce the Boeing 737 Max when it did so on Dec. 29, 2020. Alaska Airlines is expected to put the 737 Max into service on March 1. And Southwest Airlines expects to reintroduce the 737 Max sometime in spring 2021.
Do Passengers Have Options?
Do passengers have options when booked (knowingly or unknowingly) on a Boeing 737 Max? The answer is “yes,” most airlines are providing flexibility to passengers as this controversial jet returns to the skies.
American Airlines is clearly identifying flights on the Boeing 737 Max when booking. American is also notifying passengers when aircraft are changed due to scheduling, placing them on a 737 Max. American is also allowing passengers to change flights for free when booked on a Boeing 737 Max. See more details on American’s policy related to this aircraft.
Air Canada is providing similar flexibility to passengers booked on one of its 24 Boeing 737 Max aircraft. If you find yourself booked on an Air Canada flight using the 737 Max, you can change or cancel your booking at no additional cost.
Other airlines are likely to follow American and Air Canada’s lead when they reintroduce the Boeing 737 Max, allowing passengers to change or cancel without charge. Keep tabs on what type of aircraft your itineraries include, and make changes as needed as far in advance as possible. For busy business Travelers, it will be easier to make other arrangements with more time to spare.
How Should Executive Respond to the Boeing 737 Max
As you know, all Executives have a duty of care responsibility to protect and keep safe their traveling team members. As the Boeing 737 Max returns to service, now is a good time to ensure that all of your Travelers know how to identify flights on this controversial jet.
A short training could serve as an opportunity to inform your Travelers about the risks involved and options for avoiding the Boeing 737 Max. In some cases, companies may even incorporate language into travel policies that directs Travelers to choose flights on other models of jetliner.
Get Full Support for Your Travel Program
Travel is an essential part of doing business for companies around the world. At JTB Business Travel, we help companies make the most of their investments in business travel by optimizing spend and supporting Travelers from booking through expense filing. Behind every service we provide and every recommendation we make is a common-sense approach to business travel. Contact us to learn more about how we can support your travel program.