November 18, local time, the Federal Aviation Administration of the United States announced that the Boeing 737 Max series passenger planes had been approved to go around. Previously, the aircraft had been grounded for about 20 months due to two consecutive crashes and 346 deaths, causing huge economic losses.
Although since the grounding, U.S. government officials and Boeing executives have worked hard to rebuild the public’s trust in the aircraft, Boeing employees, the families of the victims of the crash, and people from all walks of life have expressed concern about the safety of the aircraft after the go-around, plus coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the aviation industry, and the prospects of the Boeing 737 Max are not optimistic.
Hard way back and forth
On March 10, 2019, a Boeing 737 Max 8 passenger plane of Ethiopian Airlines crashed during the take-off phase. All people on board were killed and the death toll reached 157. Since this aircraft is the same aircraft type as the Lion Air crash of Indonesia in October 2018 (with all 189 people killed), many civil aviation authorities and airlines have expressed concerns about the safety of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft. Subsequently, this aircraft type Grounded across the board.
Two major air crashes occurred on the 737 Max airliner one after another, which aroused global attention. The cause of the crash is believed to be related to the design defect of the anti-stall automatic control system of this model. In order for the 737 Max to return to flight, Boeing must repair system defects and obtain approval from the Federal Aviation Administration.
In September of this year, the US Congress pointed out in an investigation report on air crashes that the two air crashes were caused by ” a series of wrong assumptions by Boeing engineers, the extremely lack of transparency in the operations of Boeing management, and the supervision of the Federal Aviation Administration. Dereliction of duty “. In addition, the pilot’s errors were also considered to be an important cause of the two air crashes. Not only that, the competition between Boeing and its European rival Airbus has also brought pressure to it, which may lay a safety hazard for the development and manufacturing of the 737 Max.
In order to avoid a repeat of the tragedy, the Federal Aviation Administration stated that it must ensure that the Boeing 737 Max model has made “necessary changes” before it can carry passengers again. “Washington Post” stated that the Federal Aviation Administration conducted an “unprecedented” scrutiny of the aircraft and required pilots to complete additional special training that had not been conducted before. In addition, the modified aircraft will comprehensively compare the information of the two external sensors, so as to avoid possible fatal effects of the wrong information brought by one sensor. Not only that, Boeing also said that it has conducted an in-depth evaluation of the aircraft’s systems, “in order to ensure that the updated aircraft can become the industry’s top product after considering multiple opinions .”
However, even though the Boeing 737 Max is allowed to go back and forth, it may take as little as a few weeks to as many as several months for various airlines to complete steps such as type testing and pilot training. According to CNN, only American Airlines has added the Boeing 737 Max to its recent flight plans, and has arranged multiple routes between Miami and New York from the end of December to the beginning of January next year. Southwest Airlines, which has the most of this aircraft type, is on the sidelines, saying that this aircraft type will not open to carry passengers until the spring of 2021. United Airlines also said that the aircraft will start carrying passengers early next year.
Public opinion is more questioned
According to CNN, the investigation on how to patch the Boeing 737 Max was originally scheduled to be completed in the fall of 2019, but as new problems continue to emerge, the progress of the investigation has been repeatedly delayed. Even so, the US Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing still hold a positive attitude towards the Boeing 737 Max’s go-around.
Although the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing are confident in the Boeing 737 Max’s go-around, the reputation that has been damaged by regulatory agencies and companies may not be restored quickly. The Washington Post pointed out that the false promise made by the Federal Aviation Administration on the safety of the Max in 2017 and the hesitation of grounding the aircraft after the crash has caused the government to lose public trust and support. . There is still a long way to go before trust is restored.
At present, all sectors of society not only have doubts about the safety of the Boeing 737 Max, but also worry about whether the pilots have received sufficient professional training. CNN reported that many Boeing employees had privately questioned the safety of the Boeing 737 Max before it was allowed to go around. The report quoted an employee as saying that he “will not let his family take the plane”, and another employee even stated that the plane was “designed by clowns supervised by monkeys.”
In addition, the families of the victims of the air crash also expressed doubts about the go-around of the Boeing 737 Max. Many families of the victims believed that Boeing had many problems in the design of the aircraft, which could cause huge safety hazards. Therefore, the US Federal Aviation Administration approved its go-around approach is wrong.
For example, the father of the victim of the Ethiopian Airlines crash, Samaya Ross Stumo, said that the Federal Aviation Administration should add a third sensor to the plane to determine whether the plane is in danger of stalling.
In addition, there should be adjustments in the way pilots receive alerts. The father said: “Boeing has not resolved these issues. People should avoid taking 737 Max aircraft in the future. As the families of the victims, we hope to avoid the third crash.”
Long road to recovery
According to the “Washington Post” report, when the Boeing 737 Max was grounded across the board, nearly 400 Boeing aircraft of this type were in operation around the world. Since then, Boeing has manufactured more than 450 aircraft of this type. Not only that, according to the Wall Street Journal, due to the delay in the delivery of the Boeing 737 Max in 2020, many customers of this model have cancelled orders or extended the pick-up time. This series of factors are not good news for the prospects of this model. CNN said the grounding has cost Boeing more than $20 billion.
Now, after the 20-month flight ban ends, Boeing will have the opportunity to begin handing over the more than 450 previously manufactured 737 Max aircraft and will also process the backlog of orders.
In addition, American Airlines will be the first airline to resume commercial service with the 737 Max at the end of December this year. Although these factors seem positive, the prospects of the Boeing 737 Max are not optimistic in the context of the industry-wide depression.
Affected by coronavirus pandemic, many airlines around the world are facing serious economic difficulties. Tens of thousands of employees have been forced to suspend work or be laid off. Many observers pointed out that this will put the plan to buy aircraft on hold.
The pandemic has led to a sharp drop in passenger flow compared to the past. While layoffs, airlines are also suffering various other losses, which will further weaken the demand for aircraft.
What’s more serious is that the US pandemic has not only shown no signs of remission, it has almost fallen into a situation of out of control recently.
Under this circumstance, many experts said that the aviation industry has not been able to recover in recent years. This will be an industry-wide winter, and the impact will not be limited to certain models.