Should You Worry If You Are Flying on a Boeing 737 Max 8 Plane?

Update: The DGCA has grounded all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in India until appropriate modifications and safety measures are carried out on them, according to a statement from the Ministry of Civil Aviation.

Air travel is considered one of the safest modes of travel, because statistically air crashes are rare. However, when there are two air crashes involving the same type of aircraft – the Boeing 737 Max 8 – in a span of 16 weeks, passengers are bound to worry about flying on these aircraft. On 10 March, an Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed shortly after take-off killing all 157 on board.

The Lion Air crash in Indonesia on 29 October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines crash from 10 March are quite similar in nature, both involving Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

Also Read: Boeing 737 MAX pilots to be trained for Lion Air crash-like scenario

In India, Jet Airways and SpiceJet operate Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft. Jet Airways has five of these in operation, while SpiceJet received its first one in October 2018 and now has 13 of these. That makes a total of 18 of these Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft in operation in India as of now.

Jet Airways has an order of 225 planes from Boeing and SpiceJet has placed an order for 205 of these 737 Max planes. Jet Airways was supposed to take delivery of six more this March, but hasn’t because of delayed payment issues.

The 737 Max 8 aircraft are fitted with a sensor that controls the pitch of the aircraft automatically. This was found to be faulty in the Lion Air crash, and so far is suspect even in the Ethiopian Airlines crash. Boeing had issued an advisory to pilots of these aircraft after the Lion Air crash on how to deal with the situation.

" You cannot take even a 0.01 percent risk. Unless you really know what caused it, why put other passengers at risk? So therefore China and Ethiopian Airlines have all grounded these aircraft. In India, we will wait for what DGCA has to say on this matter." - Jitender Bhargava, Former Exec Director, Air India

Are you a nervous flyer? So how can you tell if you are set to fly on a Boeing 737 Max 8? Well, there’s no way to know at the time of booking your ticket, but apps like Flight Radar 24 mention the type of aircraft for a particular flight.

FlightRadar24 is an app that can show you the type of aircraft you are flying on.

If you are that concerned, you could check the type of aircraft before flying. However, that’s not always possible. It’s therefore the role of the DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) in India to allay fears and ensure safe air travel.

Boeing has sold over 350 Max aircraft globally, making it one of its best-selling aircraft models.

"Why can’t we (DGCA) be proactive and summon Boeing and tell them we cannot take any risks? Boeing will have to be put on the mat and told, look there are two accidents in 16 weeks, what precaution should we take or we issue a verdict." - Jitender Bhargava, Former Exec Director, Air India

Update: Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Tuesday, 12 March, has taken the decision to ground the Boeing 737-MAX planes immediately. These planes will be grounded till appropriate modifications and safety measures are undertaken to ensure their safe operations, the Ministry of Civil Aviation said on Tuesday, 12 March.

Boeing now has to come up with an answer. And quick.

Also Read: Chinese carriers, Ethiopian Airlines ground Boeing 737 MAX 8 jets

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