HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The FAA on Wednesday ordered the temporary grounding of all Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 aircraft amid mounting pressure following a growing list of countries to ban the aircraft.
But could the decision affect Hawaii flights? The short answer is yes, but the scope of the disruption isn’t clear.
Southwest and American Airlines are the only U.S. carriers flying MAX 8s, while United Airlines uses the Max 9s.
Southwest has more of them than any other world airline. American flies them along the East Coast.
Southwest intends eventually to use them to fly to Hawaii, but its initial flights to the islands will be served with Boeing 737-800s, the same model WestJet uses. A spokesperson for Southwest said Wednesday that the company doesn’t even have FAA permission to fly the MAX aircraft to Hawaii yet.
The new development from the FAA comes moments after the Canadian government decision to ground all Boeing 737 MAX jetliners.
Air Canada ordinarily flies the MAX 8s on its runs from Vancouver and Calgary to Hawaii, and was forced to cancel at least three Hawaii-bound flights on Wednesday.
Hawaii News Now has reached out to the airline for further details and is awaiting a response.
WestJet — which also serves Hawaii from cities in western Canada — ordered 50 MAX 8s and has 13 so far.
United Airlines also flies Max 9s to Hawaii, but was able to successfully land two that were en route to the islands on Wednesday morning. Both left from Los Angeles. One landed in Kona, while the other landed in Kahului.
Most nations and most airlines have now grounded MAX 8s and Max 9s.
Earlier, U.S. aviation authorities were saying that the aircraft was safe, adding that no other nation had supplied evidence to the contrary.
Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao emphasized the point Tuesday by flying a Southwest Airlines Max 8 from Austin, Texas to Washington, D.C.
Concerns about the Boeing airplanes arose after the recent fatal Ethiopian Airlines crash that bore similarities to an October crash by the Indonesian carrier Lion Air. In both cases, there were indications that an onboard computer put the nose down during ascent.
USA Today and other U.S. media reported that U.S. pilots had filed reports complaining that the planes tried leveling off on ascent, and one complained that the issue was not covered in Boeing’s training manual.
Boeing still says the MAX 8 is safe. But it also says it’s working on a software update.