Absurdly Driven looks at the world of business with a skeptical eye and a firmly rooted tongue in cheek.
I'm writing this as I'm about to board a Boeing 737.
It's not a MAX.
However, one of the people flying with me to SXSW emailed me yesterday and said:
Is it sad that I looked up to see whether it was a MAX?
Fear is entirely understandable.
After two crashes involving the 737 MAX 8, resulting in hundreds of deaths, it's entirely natural that fear will take hold.
The U.S. is standing almost alone in not grounding the plane.
Pilots at these airline differ.
Jon Weaks, president of Southwest Airlines Pilots Association issued a strident statement, which read in part:
I have been in numerous conversations today with Southwest Vice President of Flight Operations Captain Alan Kasher, who informed me that the MAX aircraft has 17,000 recordable parameters and Southwest has compiled and analyzed a tremendous amount of data from more than 41,000 flights operated by the 34 MAX aircraft on property, and the data supports Southwest's continued confidence in the airworthiness and safety of the MAX.
I will continue to put my family, friends, and loved ones on any Southwest flight and the main reason is you, the Pilots of SWAPA. We have lobbied hard for our training to continue to evolve and improve, and due to having the finest union Training and Standards Committee in the industry, that is occurring.
Some will fear that all training should have been done before the plane ever took flight.
However, his counterparts at American Airlines agree. Their union, the Allied Pilots Association, said it was entirely confident in the MAX and issued this statement:
The pilots for the world's largest airline have the necessary training and experience to troubleshoot problems and take decisive actions on the flight deck to protect our passengers and crew.
If anything, the United Airlines pilots union, the ALPA, was most bullish in its words.
United flies the slightly larger 737 MAX 9.
The master chairman of the United chapter of the union, Todd Insler, told Forbes:
We have a pretty robust flight safety data reporting system here at United. We have flown 23,000 hours in the MAX 9 and not one of those thousands of data points shows [a problem] related to aircraft performance or mechanical deficiency.
We're trying not to be emotional about this. The facts, the data points at United, show why we are confident in our ability to fly this airplane.
Many will be heartened that, as the MAX continues to fly around America, those piloting the plane are confident that it's safe.
Some passengers, however, will react emotionally. It's called being human.
Countries with a long-standing safety record in their airlines, such as Singapore and Australia, took the cautious route and grounded the MAX.
Canada has today done the same. Yet the U.S. still flies it.
That still could change.
And, now that I've landed safely, it has.