Today, the 737MAX has officially been ungrounded after just under 2 years, or roughly 20 months, of being out of operation. The MAX was banned worldwide in March of 2019, after two crashes caused by a software fault killed over 340 people. Since then, Boeing has been working to fix the issues, with many unsuccessful tests, as well as lawsuits and investigations. Boeing has finally succeeded and the FAA has deemed the aircraft safe to fly again, reinstating its certification of airworthiness, and allowing the plane to soar once again.
The MAX was grounded after two crashes with in six months of each other, involving Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines, which killed over 346 people in total. It was discovered that there was an issue with the aircrafts MCAS system, essentially causing the plane to nose dive, leaving the pilots with little options to recover.
Boeing has also faced lawsuits and legal investigations. They, along with the FAA, have been found guilty of cutting corners on the MAX project in an effort to release their aircraft before Airbus released the a320NEO. The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee released a 245 page report on Wednesday, September 16, detailing several missteps from both Boeing and the FAA. The report states that the crashes "weren't a result of a singular failure, technical mistake, or mismanaged event, but on a horrific culmination of faulty technical assumptions by Boeing's engineers, a lack of transparency across Boeing's management, and grossly insufficient oversight by the FAA."
Airlines have been forced to ground the aircraft and cancel orders, with over 400 orders of the plane cancelled. The situation has been worsened by the Coronavirus pandemic, with the demand for travel significantly decreasing. Additionally, customers have expressed fears around the aircraft, with many not trusting the plane to be safe. Boeing has lost large amounts of profit due to the MAX and COVID-19. The U.S. aircraft manufacturer has recently been in talks with several airlines, and has received a few orders for the MAX.
It is hopeful that Boeing's fixes and updates to the plane are the final ones needed. The plane had been cleared to fly by European Aviation Officials a few weeks ago, but due to the fact that Boeing is an American company, the FAA had to approve before the plane could be officially recertified and fly where allowed. Additionally, Steve Dickson, the chief of the Federal Aviation Administration, was very positive after personally flying the 737 MAX 8. Dickson is a former military and commercial pilot and executive at Delta, and his positivity is a very good sign.
Just because the MAX is ungrounded does not mean it will be flying anytime soon. Airlines still need to perform maintenance, plan routes, pull the aircraft out of storage, replace planes on the current routes, and train pilots. Not all MAX aircraft will be used due to COVID. American Airlines, however, has already started planning routes, with the first route on the MAX 8 between Miami and New York occurring daily in late 2020/early 2021. The Dallas based airline has also planned the training of a group of pilots starting November and ending in January 2021.
If you're interested in reading more in depth about any of the above topics, please feel free to click on the links embedded within this article. What do you think of the MAX? Would you fly it? Let us know your thoughts about the MAX below!
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