Editor’s comment: A change of lead…

LARA editor Glenn Sands provides a summary of the latest happenings across the low-fare airline and regional aviation industry.

The airline industry is currently taking a good look at itself, particularly the regional operators around the world after the tragic loss of the Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 on 10 March.

Following the recovery of the black box, investigations have begun as to the cause of the accident. But the chaos and confusion in the days immediately after the crash – the indecision to ground the Boeing 737 MAX series – should never be repeated.

Overseas operators were quick to react and immediately stopped scheduled flights of the 737 MAX 8. But in the US, the Federal Air Administration (FAA), unofficially regarded as the world’s spokesperson on airline safety decisions, seemed reluctant to issue an emergency grounding order. This does seem to be a familiar occurrence when a US-made and certified aircraft is involved.

Europe and the rest of the world took the lead. This left the US as the last nation to issue a grounding order for the MAX series, with an announcement by President Donald Trump in the White House on 13 March. At the time of his statement, more than two dozen Boeing 737 MAX airliners were conducting commercial flights over the US. Once these aircraft reached their destination, they were grounded until further notice.

The well-respected aviation authorities of Australia, Singapore and Canada didn’t feel it necessary to be guided by the FAA in calling for a grounding order. This certainly indicates a new policy. The FAA, for the time being, will have to do considerable work or introduce updated procedures to regain some credibility with the world’s aviation authorities.

Presently, when a tragic event happens – such as two airliners of the same type crashing within five months – US regulators seem unable to sufficiently distance themselves from US aviation manufacturers. Although the Association of Flight Attendants commented: “America in international aviation means the larger world – we set the standard for safety, competence and honesty in governance of aviation.”

While the safety of passengers and crews is without question a priority for these authorities, perhaps now is the time for the FAA to stop, listen and to take onboard lessons and advice of international communities.

The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the LARA e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

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