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American Airlines’ Flight Attendants Union Telling Crew They Don’t Have to Work the 737 MAX 8

American Airlines’ Flight Attendants Union Telling Crew They Don’t Have to Work the 737 MAX 8
Jeff Edwards

Union officials representing American Airlines cabin crew members are urging the world’s largest carrier to ground its fleet of 737 MAX 8 aircraft until a more comprehensive investigation can be conducted into two disasters involving the newer model Boeing plane, both in less than a six-month span. Labor leaders also indicated that flight attendants may have the right to refuse to work the 737 MAX.

So far, U.S. airlines have resisted mounting pressure to ground 737 MAX 8 aircraft. The largest flight attendants union in North America may have just made this position less tenable for American Airlines management.

The Association of Professional Flight Attendants (APFA) released a statement on Tuesday calling on American Airlines CEO Doug Parker to immediately ground the carrier’s entire fleet of 737 MAX aircraft. APFA President Lori Bassani indicated that cabin crew members may have the right to refuse to work flights scheduled on the suspect Boeing planes.

“Our Flight Attendants are very concerned with the recent Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crash, which has raised safety concerns with the 737 MAX 8,” Bassani said in a diplomatically worded statement. “Many respected global carriers are grounding the planes. We are calling on our CEO Doug Parker to strongly consider grounding these planes until a thorough investigation can be performed. While we cannot draw premature conclusions, it is critical to work with manufacturers, regulators and airlines to take steps to address our important safety concerns. The safety of our crews and passengers is paramount. Our Flight Attendants will not be forced to fly if they feel unsafe. Our condolences go out to the family and loved ones of crew and passengers who perished aboard Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Nairobi, Kenya.

In October of 2018, a Lion Air-operated 737 MAX crashed into the Java Sea moments after takeoff from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport (CGK). The more recent disaster involved an Ethiopian Airlines-operated 737 MAX which crashed just after departure from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD). Both flight crews reported technical problems prior to losing contact with air traffic control.

As a result of the eerily similar air disasters, both involving the relatively new Boeing 737 MAX 8, several airlines have grounded the planes pending investigation. Following the lead of France, Germany, the U.K, Iceland and Italy, the European Union on Tuesday closed all European airspace to the 737 MAX 8.

[Source: Wikimedia]

View Comments (9)


  1. thepinenuts

    March 12, 2019 at 5:17 pm

    Having been pilot for the past 40+ years, what ever happened to the philosophy of “Better safe than sorry”. While nothing is definitive yet, everything points to the MCAS system. I’m “guessing” lobbyists from Boeing and the airline industry are putting huge pressure to keep the MAX flying even though countless international agencies are putting caution and safety first over dollars. For those of you old enough to remember, it reminds me of the FORD gas tank cases where FORD determined paying out on damages in negligence claims would be less expensive than fixing the defective tank design. I was at the case in San Bernardino where a father watched his daughter burn to death in the back seat of Pinto when it was rear-ended. Just my 2 cents.

  2. Charlie25

    March 12, 2019 at 10:42 pm

    737 MAX 8.

  3. tjtex

    March 13, 2019 at 8:01 am

    Does it occur to anyone but me that this problem could be blamed heavily on AI? This is a two pronged potential problem.
    1. Glitch in the software – I have been writing software for over 50 years and I assure you that it can NEVER be tested 100%. and
    2. It’s been a long time since I was in the left seat but I am fairly certain that a percentage of current pilots, though small, rely to much on all the computerized, read automated, crap on current equipment. This leads to slow and or sloppy manual skills to correctly identify and correct sudden or subtle problems.

  4. ednumrich

    March 13, 2019 at 8:45 am

    We read today the CEO of Boeing is giving advice to POTUS while the FAA sees no cause to ground the MAX. Best example this year of “The Greater Fool Theory” at work.

  5. Anns76

    March 13, 2019 at 10:04 am

    I will never fly with American Airlines again. I understand that we don’t know the cause of the crash; however, I do agree with the previous comment ‘better safe then sorry’. The CEO’s decision not to ground the 737 MAX 8 shows that he is willing to gamble the safety of their customers. Now, it may turn out that it was pilot error and not the plane, but won’t I fly with a company like that. Actions speak louder than words. After all, there are other airlines to choose from.

  6. BC Shelby

    March 13, 2019 at 11:14 am

    …a famous fictional character once said in a film ‘the more they overthink the plumbing, the easier it is to top up the drain”.

    As we depend more and more on such “smart systems” to manage our lives and work processes situations like this will occur. This is why I feel that even fully autonomous and safe ground vehicles (not just for the occupants but those outside said vehicle) are a much farther way off than their proponents claim.

    I still remember a launch of an Ariane 5 years ago when about 40 seconds after liftoff, the rocket went unstable and had to be destroyed. It was discovered there was a “slight” error in computation for the rocket’s inertial reference programme caused the situation. Basically, a 64 bit floating point number relating to the horizontal velocity of the rocket with respect to the platform was converted to a 16 bit signed integer which exceeded the maximum number for a 16 bit stored integer. Yes a mistake that small can spell disaster.

  7. ichorush

    March 13, 2019 at 11:27 am

    Southwest has the greaestt number of 737 Max on order although they might not currently be flying the greatest number of them. Have we heard anything from Southwest on their position re grounding the Max?

  8. MimiB22

    March 14, 2019 at 10:28 am

    Trump has issued an order grounding the Max. I wonder who got his ear?

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