After Boeing’s 737-MAX aircraft came under scrutiny following two crashes in the span of about five months involving Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines that killed 346 people total, Boeing declared they intended to slow down production of the 737-MAX. The entire fleet has been grounded ever since the crash in March. This decision was based on a preliminary investigation into the Ethiopian Airlines tragedy explained that the pilots did perform all of the aircraft manufacturer’s recommended procedures, but were not able to regain control the jet and crashed. On-going investigations revealed the cause of both the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air crashes was a fault of the anti-stall program installed on the aircraft computer. This forced the plane into a nose dive due to incorrect angles of sensor’s readings.
Boeing is developing a software fix to get the 371 grounded 737 MAX jets cleared to fly again. The exact return date is still unconfirmed but Boeing plans to see them taking off mid-august
“The history of our industry shows most accidents are caused by a chain of events. This again is the case here, and we know we can break one of those chain links in these two accidents.”
-Dennis Muilenburg, CEO, Boeing
On April 11, Boeing then announced that it had finalized the software fix. The aerospace giant conducted 96 test flights using this updated software — including one with the CEO on board — to prove that the plane isn’t at risk of crashing due to the same anti-stalling issues. While this is good news, they still have a journey to finding their way back into the friendly skies with the 737-MAX as American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, United Continental have extended their grounding of flights through August.
Airlines have had to use larger planes in many cases to continue providing service, giving forwarders and shippers a capacity bump that has lead to an upswing in cargo bookings and a slight reduction in prices. Airlines that don’t use the 737-MAX, one of which is Delta, are expecting a growth bump of up to 3% due to having a full fleet staffed.
For now, flights are still cancelled until the FAA certifies the 737-MAX as airworthy. Keep watching this space as we’ll update this story as it develops through the summer!