737 Max: Status Update

 

Fourteen months after it was grounded after two crashes and five months after Boeing halted production, the company has resumed production of the 737 Max, at reduced levels, even though there's still no clear picture of when it will be certified to fly again.

Boeing had hoped that it might be recertified in time for the coming revival of airline service disrupted by the pandemic, but during the investigation of the software and hardware issues that appear to have caused the two fatal crashes, investigators have found number of other software glitches that must be fixed and tested before the plane can fly again.

Significantly, one of the latest flaws developed as a result of changes made to fix the original problem, which illustrates the complexity of the problems. In the meantime, airlines that were already flying the plane have continued to write it out of their schedules for some time to come, and some airlines have canceled or sharply reduced orders.

Another major bump in the road may come after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration gives the plane an all-clear; European regulators have indicated they won't rubber-stamp the FAA's decision without testing of their own. For many years, FAA has certified U.S.-built planes and the European Aviation Safety Agency has certified products built there, with each accepting the other's expertise and decisions. 

After revelations during the initial investigations of a relatively cosy relationship between regulators and regulated in the U.S. and an apparent willingness to take the planemaker at its word by FAA, EASA has decided on independent review, which may delay the plane's return to service in a number of countries.

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