Boeing has told a US court it was not guilty of concealing information about flight control systems on its 737 Max aircraft, which led to two crashes, killing 346 people. Flaws in the systems were found to have led to the accidents, but Boeing avoided a trial by agreeing to pay $2.5bn (£1.8bn).
The Boeing 737 MAX 8 is a new plane that had its first flight in January 2016. Despite its short time on the market, the MAX 8 has been involved in two tragedies in fewer than five months: the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash on March 10, 2019, and the Lion Air Flight JT 610 crash on Oct. 29, 2018.
The ultimate Boeing 737 MAX question is always, 'is it safe now? '. The answer to that is a resounding yes. The plane has been described as one of the most scrutinized aircraft in aviation history, with authorities like the FAA, EASA, and many more taking a very close look at the plane.
Nearly 1,100 MAX aircraft have now flown over 4.6 million flight hours and over 1.8 million flights.
The FAA ultimately grounded the MAX on March 13, 2019 and lifted the flight prohibition order in November 2020 after Boeing made a series of software upgrades and training changes.
Because of the sheer intensity of the scrutiny the aircraft faced, the Boeing 737 MAX could be considered one of the safest in the world. In fact, among the dozens of models of commercial airliners around the world, it is likely the safest due to the amount of regulation testing that took place.
Preliminary investigations revealed serious flight control problems that traumatized passengers and crew on the aircraft's previous flight, as well as signs of angle-of-attack (AoA) sensor and other instrument failures on that and previous flights, tied to a design flaw involving the Maneuvering Characteristics ...
“The airline has the right to substitute equipment,” Schiavo said. “If you could book a 737 500, and you find out it's a 737 MAX, technically they don't have to honor your request. … So you don't have a right to specify you are not going to go on a 737 MAX.”
The Max was allowed to fly again in late 2020 after Boeing made changes to the plane, including to MCAS, the flight control system behind the crashes.
Southwest maintains the largest Boeing 737 MAX fleet, though the Ryanair Group is close to knocking the US low-cost carrier from the top.
The low-cost carrier currently holds the -700, -800, and MAX 8 variants of the 737. According to Planespotters.net, this fleet has an average age of 12.4 years. It is the latter two variants that keep this number low. The -800s have an average age of 5 years, while the MAX 8s have an average of just 2.5 years.
Boeing estimates that the average 737 MAX 7 aircraft would seat anywhere between 138 to 153 passengers. The MAX 8 would seat between 162 to 178 passengers, while the MAX 9 would seat 178 to 193 passengers, depending on the configuration.
Boeing and its 180-seat 737 MAX have been dealt a hammer blow after long-time customer Qantas abandoned the Seattle aerospace giant in favour of Europe's Airbus and its A320neo family of narrow-body jets as part of its Project Winton fleet refurbishment.
Union officials indicate that pilots like the Max and are confident in the changes from Boeing. Representatives of three unions said that crews were largely happy with the plane and added that, except at a select few airlines, training backlogs were the biggest challenge to getting more pilots in the cockpit.
In March 2019, Chinese aviation authorities instructed airlines in the country to ground all their Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft, citing the need for “strict control of safety risks.” The decision followed two 737 Max 8 crashes in Ethiopia in 2019 and Indonesia in 2018.
The MAX has now been so thoroughly reviewed by regulators and reworked by Boeing that it should be considered incredibly safe. Additional pilot training requirements should help instill even more confidence in the airplane, but it's hard to shake the feeling of fear that many travelers will encounter in the near term.
The Telegraph said: “Norwegian's 737s have the same issue (avoid seats 10A, 11A and 11F), as does American Airlines' (steer clear of 11A and 11F). “But if you fly with easyJet, the windowless perches are at the back, rather than in the middle.
After a 20-month review that included design and software changes as well as enhanced training, the FAA agreed in late 2020 to allow the plane to fly again.
The single-aisle market benefits from the Boeing 737 MAX's increased efficiency, improved environmental performance, and increased passenger comfort. The type delivers outstanding economics, decreasing fuel use and pollutants by 20% while producing a 50% smaller noise footprint than the aircraft it replaces.
Utilizing the International Civil Aviation Organization safety occurrence data, from 2008 to 2019, these aircraft were compared in terms of occurrence type, occurrence category, phase of flight, injury level, and fatalities. It was found that Boeing had more accidents than expected, while Airbus had less (p = 0.015).
The next-lowest-priced plane, the 737 MAX 8, boasts a cost of $121.6 million. Boeing has created a higher-density version of the MAX 8, known as MAX 8-200, that costs $124.8 million. The MAX series also contains the MAX 9, at $128.9 million, and the mAX 10, at $134.9 million.
In December 2021, Qantas announced it had selected the Airbus A321XLR to replace its Boeing 737-800s, and the Airbus A220 to replace its QantasLink Boeing 717s. The in-principle agreement was for up to 134 orders and purchase right options over 10 plus years with deliveries occurring sometime after 1 July 2023.
The 737 Max without MCAS activated is a stable aircraft. It is an inherently stable design. The 737 Max can and was flown without MCAS activated (even by the same aircraft as crashed, the pilots of the previous flight pulled the stabiliser cut out switches and went to manual trim control).
Boeing and Airbus are two of the most prominent commercial aircraft manufacturers globally. They have estimated the lifespan of their aircraft as follows: Boeing estimates that their 737 series aircraft have a lifespan of 90,000 flight cycles or 55,000 flight hours, whichever comes first.