The Boeing 737 Max Crisis, perception of airline safety and more

More than 30 countries including India, China, Singapore, Australia, and Indonesia, to name a few, banned Boeing 737 Max jets after 346 people lost their lives in two deadly crashes – the first in Indonesia in October and the second in Ethiopia in March. Over 1,00,000 airliners take off and land each day, but these two tragedies have shocked passengers, regulators, and industry alike. According to AFP, Boeing on Sunday announced that some of its medium-haul 737s, including the 737 MAX 8, could have a defective wing part, but that there had been no reports of flight issues linked to the defect. The American aviation giant, which has been rocked by an unprecedented crisis after its entire 737 MAX 8 fleet was grounded in mid-March, said a subcontractor informed it of problems with a batch of a part involved in deploying the wings’ leading edge.

The leading edge of an aircraft is key to take-off and landing because it is meant to improve the wing’s drag and therefore the jet’s aerodynamics. Boeing said in a statement that it had relayed the defective lot number to aircraft owners so they can inspect the parts in question. If operators find the defective parts on their aircraft, they should replace them before putting the plane back in service, the company said. Boeing is working on a software fix that will allow the MAX 8 to begin flying again, but differences have arisen between the United States and Canada on how to train pilots on the software after the update. Washington believes training on computers or tablets is sufficient for seasoned pilots, but Ottawa wants to require training on flight simulators.

Safety

Aircraft accidents occurred more frequently in almost every region worldwide in 2018 as the death toll climbed to a four-year high of 523, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). According to a press release by IATA, it has called on the ground handling industry to focus on three priorities to effectively accommodate the expanding demand for air travel and air cargo. Which are:
· Continuing to put safety first
· Implementing global standards
· Accelerating the speed of innovation and process modernization

Training

Modernizing training for ground handling was identified as another key element to improving safety. “The training of employees is paramount to safe operations. New training technologies have an important role to play. This includes innovative virtual reality tools,” said Nick Careen, IATA’s Senior Vice President, Airport, Passenger, Cargo, and Security, in the press release, highlighting the success of IATA’s RampVR (TM), offering the first virtual reality training tool for ground operations.

On May 27, 2019, IATA asked the ground handling industry to accelerate the global adoption of the IATA Ground Operations Manual (IGOM) to ensure a level of operational consistency and safety across the industry worldwide. “Global standards applied consistently are the only route to safe, secure and efficient ground operations. IGOM has been proven to be effective and continues to gather support from not only airlines and GSPs but also regulators, airports and other industry bodies. This is good news but there is more to be done – our target remains worldwide implementation,” said Careen.

(Compiled by Sonali Pimputkar)