Business

What is the Boeing 737 Max and What Went Wrong With It?

Word Count: 542 Reading Time: 2:45

Questions To Consider

  • What is the Boeing 737 Max?
  • When have crashes occurred?
  • Why is the timing of these incidents especially unfortunate for Boeing?
Image by Fighter Jets World

What is the Boeing 737 Max?

The Boeing 737 Max 8 is a relatively new aircraft. It was intended to be an improved model of its predecessor, the Boeing 737-800.  It was deemed one of the safest airplanes in the industry since its first launch in 1994. Most of the new model’s features were the same as the previous one- with a few minor differences- the most notable of them being the “MCAS,” or Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System. The MCAS pinched the nose of the airplane downwards whenever it tips upward. This was intended to be an irrelevant change so it was left out of the pilot’s manual. However, this led to major events that would result in the aircraft being grounded altogether.

When Have Crashes Occurred?

Image by The Seattle Times

Two major crashes have occurred with the Boeing 737 Max 8, leading to its eventual worldwide grounding in March of 2019. Grounding an aircraft means that it is not cleared for commercial flight. The first crash was Lion Air Flight 610. This flight occurred in October of 2018.  The Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 was next. This  occurred in March of 2019, Both of these incidents occurred  due to faulty signals given by the aircraft’s “AoA”, or angle of attack signal. This triggers the MCAS, and when it was automatically triggered at the wrong time. The  pilots of both flights lost control of the flight and the flight resulted in the respective crashes. The erroneous AoA system was what led to these tragic accidents. This all resulted in an astounding 346 civilian deaths. After further examination of the AoA sensors and recertification flights of the aircraft. The grounding was lifted in November of 2020.

Why is the Timing of These Incidents Especially Unfortunate for Boeing?

Image by The Verge

Although the grounding of this aircraft was recently lifted, the substantial damage it caused had severe effects that compounded on one another. This resulted in massive losses for Boeing. The biggest issue was that one of the crashes wasn’t the same aircraft as the 2018 incident, it was only Because of Boeing’s 737 Max 8’s grounding, the company’s growth was reduced to  multiple tenths of a percent. This doesn’t include the losses from the pandemic- which were around $2.5 billion and a 25% loss in revenue- and the settlements with the Justice Department-which were also $2.5 billion. As the pandemic concludes and the 737 Max 8 takes flight again, it’s interesting to see how Boeing has recovered and will be interesting to see how a highly prestigious and influential symbol of modern aviation will bounce back.

TL;DR

  • The Boeing 737 Max 8, a fairly new aircraft, was made to be a improved version of the Boeing 737-800 with a new system and was considered to be one of the safest aircrafts since its creation in 1994.
  • The new system was called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, which automatically raised or lowered the nose of the plane based on conditions detected by the AoA sensor, or the angle of attack signal.
  • Two crashes occurred in 2018 and 2019 as a result of malfunctioning in the AoA sensor, which in turn derailed the MCAS, which cause the pilots to lose control and crash, killing everyone on board in both flights.
  • After the aircraft was grounded, or barred from flying, worldwide, the aircraft had to undergo recertification through test flights, and was lifted from its grounding in late 2020.
  • The crashes and the grounding, compounded with the coronavirus pandemic, had severely detrimental effects on Boeing, losing billions of dollars in restitution payments and and excess of supply. However, they slowly recovered, and their stock is nearly back to what it used to be, causing people to wonder where Boeing will go from here.

Citations

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/10/business/boeing-737-indonesia-plane.html

https://www.theverge.com/2019/3/22/18275736/boeing-737-max-plane-crashes-grounded-problems-info-details-explained-reasons

https://www.seattletimes.com/business/boeing-aerospace/what-led-to-boeings-737-max-crisis-a-qa/#:~:text=Two%20crashes%20of%20virtually%20new,jet%20into%20a%20nose%20dive

https://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/times-watchdog/the-inside-story-of-mcas-how-boeings-737-max-system-gained-power-and-lost-safeguards/

https://www.marketplace.org/2020/01/28/unmatched-impact-boeing-737-max-economy/

https://boeing.mediaroom.com/news-releases-statements?item=130336

https://www.cnn.com/2019/03/10/africa/ethiopian-airlines-crash-boeing-max-8-intl/index.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/09/18/magazine/boeing-737-max-crashes.html

https://www.nytimes.com/2021/01/07/business/boeing-settlement-justice-department.html

https://www.businessinsider.com/virus-and-grounded-plane-send-boeing-to-24-billion-2q-loss-2020-7

https://www.theguardian.com/business/2020/oct/28/boeing-warns-of-30000-job-cuts-quarter-of-heavy-losses-pandemic-737-max-coronavirus

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