Tuesday, March 12, 2019

SpiceJet continues to fly 737 Max 8 for now; here’s how to check if your next flight is on one

Is the Boeing 737 Max 8 safe? Passengers and aviation experts are raising the question following the tragic crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. This is the second fatal crash involving a Max 8 in 5 months, following the Lion Air crash from October 2018. There are no confirmed leads yet about what may have caused Sunday’s accident: whether it was an issue with the aircraft, or specifically, its manoeuvring system, like with Lion Air. Investigations may well prove otherwise. However, till then, the fact that two brand-new aircraft of the same type—built to fly for decades—crashed from the skies after less than 6 months in operation, is a cause for worry.
Understandably then, several countries and airlines have preferred to be extra cautious. India and SpiceJet are not among them, neither are the US or SouthWest (which has the largest number of Max8s in its fleet):

India’s aviation regulator Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has chosen not to ground the Boeing 737 Max 8 for now. Instead, it has issued an advisory to the two airlines (Jet Airways and SpiceJet) about additional safety checks to be made for their Max 8 fleet. It has also mandated that the pilot and co-pilot must have 1,000 hours and 500 hours of flying experience on the Boeing 737 Next Generation series of aircraft.

Jet Airways has 5 of these, but neither is in service (over a default in payments). SpiceJet has 13 in operation at the moment. SpiceJet is yet to issue an update.

Countries that have grounded the 737 Max 8:
Singapore: Has taken the strongest safety measure yet. It has temporarily suspended operations of all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in and out of the country. This includes those owned by airlines not registered in the country. Singapore Airlines-owned Silk Air has confirmed that all 8 of its 737 Max 8s have been grounded. These were being used on flights to Bengaluru,  Hyderabad, Kathmandu, Kuala Lumpur, Phuket and other destinations. Other airlines that will be affected include Garuda Indonesia, Lion Air, China Southern Airlines.
China: The country has grounded all 96 aircraft operated by its airlines
Indonesia: Has grounded all 11 Max 8s operated by its airlines, which includes Lion Air.
South Korea: It has only two of these in service. Both have been grounded for now.
Mongolia: Has one 737 Max 8, operated by MIAT Mongolian Airlines. The aircraft has been taken off service for now.
Airlines that have grounded the 737 Max 8
Some airlines have chosen not to wait for their aviation regulator and proactively grounded their Max 8s. These include:
Ethiopian Airlines, Ethiopia
AeroMexico, Mexico
Comair, South Africa
GOL, Brazil
Flight tracking service FlightRadar24 reports that the actual number of airlines that have grounded their fleet may be as high as 23 (which potentially includes many from China)
12/03/19 Conde Nast Traveller