Many countries have already grounded 737 Max planes and as of Mar 13, 2019 the FAA have stated:

The FAA is ordering the temporary grounding of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft (PDF) operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S. territory. The agency made this decision as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today. This evidence, together with newly refined satellite data available to FAA this morning, led to this decision.

Source FAA Statement on Boeing 737 Max

So why are there currently 40 737 Max planes in flight according to FlightAware?

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Who would be liable should one of these flights crash on takeoff, potentially over a densely populated urban environment?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ The flightaware data is wrong. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Mar 14, 2019 at 22:20
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ @Ben Really? What is wrong with it? $\endgroup$ Mar 14, 2019 at 22:21
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ I don't know enough about how it gets the data but flightradar 24 gets data directly from the aircraft ADSB transmitter and it shows none of them flying at the moment. I corroborated this when flightaware displayed a Max in Australian airspace yesterday when the aircraft has been subbed to a normal 737-800. $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Mar 14, 2019 at 22:25
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ TOM733 is currently operated by G-FDZY which is not a Max $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Mar 14, 2019 at 22:28
  • 3
    $\begingroup$ @Ben Ah. So after checking I see FlightRadar is showing a B738 (737-800) not a MAX. Kind of invalidates my question then. If you want to write that up as an answer I will accept it. $\endgroup$ Mar 14, 2019 at 22:39

1 Answer 1


Most of them are probably on a ferry flight. The EASA directive allows 1 transfer with up to 3 flight legs without passengers.

Some of them are travelling between countries where they are not grounded.

When a commercial plane crashes, the airline is liable, unless it can prove that the manufacturer is at fault.

I revisited the FlightAware search for B737M today (March 15th), because I was curious how the picture has changed. Same time of the day, just 1 day later:

enter image description here

There is now much less B737M traffic in the US, none in EU, slightly less in Asia, and increased traffic in Africa. That would be coherent with what I answered yesterday, but I was also curious about @Ben's claim that the FlightAware data is not correct. Now this is what I found:

enter image description here

The search in FlightAware identified 26 flights as B38M. Cross checking with FlightRadar24 delivered:

  • 1x 737 MAX 8
  • 18x 737 other than MAX
  • 1x 787-9 Dreamliner
  • 6x not found

The only 737 MAX was - according to FlightRadar24 - AAL9663 from Miami to Phoenix.

I am not sure what exactly FlightAware is showing. My guess is that they are showing the types that are planned to execute the flight.

  • $\begingroup$ One of them (from Agadir) is flying into Manchester Airport. They are grounded in European airspace. $\endgroup$ Mar 14, 2019 at 21:30
  • 5
    $\begingroup$ They are grounded for passenger flights. The EASA directive allows 1 transfer with up to 3 legs without passengers. $\endgroup$
    – bogl
    Mar 14, 2019 at 21:35
  • 23
    $\begingroup$ @DavidPostill no. you want to do any change to your aircraft at your maintenance facilities, where your technicians are, and they are not "just about anywhere" $\endgroup$
    – Federico
    Mar 14, 2019 at 22:00
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ It's generally cheaper to ferry the plane to the techs than it is to ferry the techs to the plane $\endgroup$ Mar 14, 2019 at 23:16
  • 11
    $\begingroup$ @DavidPostill Have you ever parked your car in long term parking at the airport? Imagine the parking fees for a 737! $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Mar 15, 2019 at 1:06

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