How the 737 Max Series Went Wheels Down All Over the World

The Ethiopian Airlines crash brought flights on the latest iteration of Boeing’s best-selling aircraft to a standstill in only five days.

Flight data courtesy of Flightradar24

A total of 1,257 of Boeing’s 737 Max series aircraft filled the skies last Sunday, the same day that a Max 8 belonging to Ethiopian Airlines crashed shortly after takeoff near Addis Ababa, killing 157 people. By noon Coordinated Universal Time on Thursday, based on transponder readings, only one active 737 Max series aircraft was left.

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 was the second 737 Max 8 crash in five months, following last October’s Lion Air disaster in Indonesia, which killed 189 people, and it set off a chain reaction of orders to ground Boeing’s 737 Max series aircraft. What started with China was followed by over 40 countries over the next two days. By Wednesday, Canada and the United States followed suit, and the last passenger-carrying Max 8 landed in Newark. 

To illustrate this dramatic decline, Foreign Policy created a GIF using data from Flightradar24’s live Flight Tracker. Above you’ll see the number of active Max series airplanes each day from March 10 to 14, at 12 p.m. UTC. On Monday most of the Max aircraft disappear over China. By Wednesday most of the flights left travel through North America, the one continent left still allowing the Max series to fly. 

Although all 737 Max aircraft were grounded by the end of March 13, Flightradar24 tweeted that flights continued to occur as operators ferried the planes back to bases for storage. 

But what about the lone Max 8 in Shenzhen on Thursday, days after China grounded the aircraft?

“The transponder was powered on, but the aircraft was stationary,” Ian Petchenik of Flightradar24’s Media and Community Relations department told FP. After only 13 minutes, the transponder turned off and the map was empty. 

C.K. Hickey is the interactives and features designer at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @seekayhickey