Traffic Data Recaps Max Grounding and Return to Service

 - December 23, 2020, 1:42 AM
Brazil's Gol recently became the first airline in the world to resume commercial flights with the Boeing 737 Max narrowbody. (Gol)

Clearance for Boeing’s 737 Max airliner to return to service after an unprecedented 20-month grounding has been one of the key air transport stories of 2020, bringing a degree of redemption to the U.S. manufacturer at the close of a grim year. Over the past week, the Max portfolio has been boosted by fresh orders from Ryanair and Alaska Airlines. However, even following the lifting of restrictions by FAA and its Brazilian counterpart ANAC, the case isn’t completely closed.

In Europe, EASA is still finalizing the airworthiness directives it is expected to issue in mid-January. This week, families of some of those killed in the Ethiopian Airlines fatal accident that, along with the Lion Air crash, prompted the grounding, have urged EASA to hold off on lifting it. The pushback came days after a U.S. Senate committee issued a report slamming FAA and Boeing for alleged shortcomings in safety oversight.

Against this backdrop, Spire Aviation has tapped its proprietary satellite data to provide a vivid recap of how the grounding of the 737 Max unfolded back in March 2019. The data sheds light on which countries were fastest to enforce a ban and which still allowed the narrowbody to fly until a global grounding was enforced.

In data brought to life through video presentations, the Spire team has also tracked key aspects of what has transpired since the FAA cleared the way for a return to service on November 18. These show test flights involving U.S. Canadian and Brazilian safety inspectors and carriers such as American Airlines, Gol, and Air Canada.

Spire Aviation is part of the Spire Global group, which is owned by the San Francisco-headquartered Spacetech company. Based on its own satellite constellation, it identifies, tracks, and predicts the movement of multiple sets of resources and weather systems to support decisions by companies and governments.