ATW Editor's Blog

FAA, US airline leaders need to speak up on MAX

by Karen Walker
Mar 13, 2019

News this morning that Canada has grounded the Boeing 737 MAX is highly significant and truly leaves the US isolated on this issue.

Most concerning is that Canadian Transport Minister Marc Garneau, in his press conference announcement, said that the department had received “new information” leading to its decision today to bar all MAX 8s and 9s from arriving, departing or overflying Canadian airspace.

That directly affects MAX operators Air Canada, LCC WestJet and Sunwing, of course. But while US airline operators American, Southwest and United do not operate the MAX on Canada routes, they will likely be under extreme pressure from customers and employees to explain why they are still flying on an aircraft that Canada has grounded; as will FAA.

What FAA and the US airlines really need to do now, if they are to maintain their stance on the MAX, is put a clear public face on that decision. Regardless of the rights and wrongs of pre-empting a crash investigation, this is rapidly turning into a communications crisis. FAA, in Dan Elwell, and the affected US airlines all have excellent leaders who care deeply about safety and their people. They must put human faces on their decision. They need to speak to the American public.

Karen Walker karen.walker@informa.com

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