With IATA meeting with airlines and other stakeholders in Montreal to discuss how to get the Boeing 737 MAX back in the air this week, one thing has become clear. All countries and all regions must agree that this aircraft can fly simultaneously, otherwise, the aircraft should remain grounded.
What are the details?
International Air Transport Association (IATA) is the trade association for the world’s airlines, representing some 290 airlines or 82% of total air traffic. their role is to bring together airlines and aviation authorities (such as the FAA) to decide what policies should be implemented for safe and accessible air travel.
The Boeing 737 MAX disaster, which has so far claimed the lives of over 300 people, is a hot issue for IATA. They have brought together affected airlines multiple times to try and determine the correct action regarding the 737 MAX aircraft and try and figure out the required steps to bring that aircraft back in the air.
Currently, IATA is meeting in Montreal to build a better bridge between airlines and aviation authorities, to ‘shore up trust among regulators and improving coordination’ in worldwide scenarios like the 737 MAX disaster.
Additionally, they are there to convince aviation authorities from around the world to lift the ban on the Boeing 737 MAX simultaneously.
Why does the ban have to be lifted simultaneously?
The ban of the Boeing 737 MAX was not simultaneous around the world, but slowly rolled out over time as each country decided what action to take.
As such, some airlines that operated the 737 MAX found that whilst they could fly it within their own country, they suddenly could no longer fly it beyond their borders. Whilst this was not a problem for airlines like Southwest (Southwest has 23 of the type) who operate domestically in the US, airlines like Fiji Airways found that they could barely operate their MAX anywhere, as the primary destinations of Australia and New Zealand had both banned the aircraft.
Jay, a fellow reporter of Simple Flying, actually got to fly on the Fiji Airways 737 MAX just before the aircraft was grounded. You can check out his review here (and hauntingly, it includes a moment just after takeoff).
Thus to ensure that things can truly return to normal, the ban on the aircraft series will need to be lifted simultaneously across the world by all aviation authorities.
Which aviation authorities are critical?
Of the members of IATA that are meeting in Montreal, there are several aviation authorities that will make or break the plan to lift the 737 MAX ban. Some include:
China, The Civil Aviation Administration of China, was one of the first countries to ban the type of aircraft. They are a huge market and will need to give the green light to resort customer confidence in the region.
The United States, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), representing the home ground of Boeing, the FAA will need to show that they stand by the American made aircraft.
Singapore, the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, has banned the operation of all variants of the 737 MAX aircraft into and out of Singapore. Singapore is a huge airline hub and will need to reopen its borders to bring the 737 MAX back to South East Asia.
Europe is represented by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). It goes without saying that the world’s largest aviation market needs to accept the aircraft before it can fly again anywhere else in the world.
There are plenty of other authorities that need to come on board, but those listed above are the main dealmakers who will make the ultimate final decision.