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Boeing 737 Max 8s in the air on Monday afternoon.
UP IN THE AIR

There are at least 80 737 Max 8s in the sky at the moment

Today, China, Ethiopian Airlines, and Cayman Airways announced they were grounding their Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft after the second deadly crash involving the updated 737 single-aisle model in just over four months. All 157 people on board an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi were killed yesterday in a crash.

The grounding affect around 100 of the 350 of the 737 Max aircraft that have been delivered through January, leaving about 250 of the aircraft still in operation.

A search on flight-tracking websites at around 5pm Hong Kong time (5am ET), showed close to 80 short-haul flights on 737 Max 8 aircraft in operation. Some of these were flying across the US, where more than 70 of the model have been delivered. To take a look at the flights still operating using the aircraft, search for B38M on US-based FlightAware. The listing shows some China flights, though all Chinese carriers are supposed to suspend operations using the aircraft by 6pm.

On Sweden’s Flightradar24, use the filtering tool to search for airborne flights using the aircraft B38M (737 Max 8) or B39M (737 Max 9). The search on Flightradar appeared to show more flights, closer to 90 at around the same time as the FlightAware search.

Flightradar24

The flights still running the Boeing aircraft are short-haul journeys of the kind the more fuel-efficient aircraft is supposed to revolutionize for budget carriers, such as Norwegian Air flights within Europe, flights between midsize Indian cities on SpiceJet, and domestic flights on Turkish Airlines.

Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302 reported problems immediately after takeoff from Addis Ababa yesterday, and crashed just after the pilot requested clearance to return to the Ethiopian capital. In October, a Lion Air flight on a Boeing 737 Max 8 disappeared from radar soon after taking off from Jakarta, crashing in the Java Sea and killing all 189 aboard.

Following the Lion Air crash, US aviation authorities issued an emergency directive to carriers to update flight manuals with information on what to do when the aircraft’s anti-stall system is triggered by erroneous data, which can cause the aircraft’s computer to point the nose sharply downward. Boeing, meanwhile, directed airlines to a checklist for stabilizing the aircraft. Pilots said the crash and the directives that followed were the first time that they were made aware of these changes to the flight system.

Boeing has said it has no basis to issue new guidance to operators based on the information it has collected so far on the crash in Ethiopia.

Despite the concerns, some airlines have retained their trust of the manufacturer. Southwest Airlines, which has ordered more 737 Max 8s than any other carrier, said in a statement that it “remained confident in the safety and airworthiness of our fleet of more than 750 Boeing aircraft.”

Correction, March 12: This story earlier said more than 80 of the 737 Max aircraft have been delivered to US carriers. According to the FAA, 74 planes of this model are registered with US carriers. In addition, FlightAware is based in the US, not in the UK.

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