If you follow aviation news or even just fly occasionally, you probably heard plenty about the recent tragedies with the Boeing 737 Max 8. In case you missed them, here’s a quick summary.
In the span of five months, Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines both lost a Boeing 737 MAX 8. In the wake of these tragic accidents and the unspeakable loss of life, governments have temporarily halted 737 MAX 8 flights in their respective airspace and virtually all airlines have stopped flying the aircraft until further review leads to answers – and most importantly safe solutions.
Currently, Boeing is working to roll out a software fix to restore confidence in what was one of their most popular aircraft. The 737 family of planes is the most widely used aircraft in the world, and the MAX was the latest incarnation of this successful mid to short-haul titan of the skies. That brings us to today’s news.
Garuda Indonesia, the flag carrier of Indonesia with flights throughout Asia, Europe and the Pacific, ordered 49 of these Boeing jets but recent tragedies and concerns from passengers have led to a reconsideration of plans. Like many things in the world, once a stigma around a product exists, it’s extremely hard to recover confidence. In air travel, that’s magnified to the utmost degree.
In light of these concerns, Garuda Indonesia has requested to cancel their entire 737 MAX 8 order, with immediate effect. The order is said to be worth up to $4.9 Billion. That’s certainly not the vote of confidence Boeing needs right now, especially as pending lawsuits drive down share prices. Whether Garuda will be able to successfully cancel the order is unknown at this point, but the airline has indicated a willingness to change the order to another Boeing option.
In the immediate future, you won’t see any 737 MAX 8’s in the sky, that’s the one thing we know. Once the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has reviewed Boeing’s software update that they believe will fix the issue, we should know more. Whether anyone wishes to fly on a MAX 8 at that point, is another story entirely.
Right now, airlines that heavily rely on the Boeing 737 Max 8 including Norwegian Air and Southwest Airlines will be forced to figure out temporary solutions in hopes of maintaining routes and schedules. This will make a tremendous impact on the Southwest’s plans for Hawaii expansion.
Like the woes with Rolls Royce engines on the 787 Dreamliner, this is a huge blow to fleets with great dependency. Norwegian has now suffered from both, and after IAG withdrew its takeover bid, it’s hard to imagine a future beyond the immediate.
While Garuda is the only carrier to put in a cancellation request at this point, this is going to be a tough stretch for Boeing as it tries to figure out what went wrong and mend the damage done to the brand. If other airlines follow suit in order cancellation, there’s no telling where this will end. That’s fine, as long as another life is not lost in the friendly skies.