Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) officials and Boeing executives want more time to update flight-control systems believed to be the cause of two deadly crashes. Software improvements for the 737 MAX aircraft were expected to be completed by the end of March but Boeing executives are requesting more time to make sure all problems have been addressed. The planes have been grounded worldwide since mid-March.
“It is a decision that has the full support of the secretary, the president and the FAA as an agency,” Daniel Ewell, acting FAA administrator told The Associated Press (AP) when discussing approval of grounding of the 737 MAX.
The action was taken following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 on March 10, killing all 157 aboard. A statement from Elwell stated that “evidence aligns the Ethiopian Flight closer to Lion Air [flight 610 that crashed Oct. 29, 2018 killing 189].”
Both flights, according to the investigation results, suffered a malfunction with the anti-stall system that initiated an emergency decline maneuver, causing the pilots to struggle in maintaining altitude. The United States was the last nation to ban 737 MAX operations after almost all European, Latin American and Asian nations halted operations.
Additionally, a Southwest 737 MAX-8 made an emergency landing at Orlando International Airport March 26 due to an engine problem. Although there were no casualties, Southwest Airlines is not in the clear. The Dallas-based airline recently reported an estimated
potential loss of $150 million in revenue due to the global grounding of their newly purchased fleet of 280 Boeing 737 MAX series.
As for the fate of Boeing, and the MAX lineup, Chip Izard, coordinator and business programs associate professor at Richland said, “This all depends upon how Boeing takes ownership for the problem and how quickly they work with their airline partners to fix the problem. Since there have now been two accidents with this plane, Boeing will be well advised to fix the problem and rebrand this plane.”
In the world of aviation, both passengers and airline companies have gradually demanded more efficient and accommodating airplanes as air travel expands around the globe. The two giants in aircraft manufacturing, Boeing and Airbus, responded with new lineups to meet consumer and corporate expectations: the Airbus’ NEO series and Boeing’s MAX series.
Izard believes Boeing has a big hurdle to overcome, due to their declining dominance in the aviation market and strategic moves by Airbus. Not only does Airbus offer the NEO series lineup, the company merged with Canadian aircraft manufacturing company Bombardier in 2018 and reports increased demand for their newly introduced A220 with a total of 7,390 orders.
“Airbus is a very big competitor and all the major airlines use their planes,” Izard said. “No airline wants to risk losing passengers to another airline because of a plane.”
Izard emphasized that the worldwide grounding of a plan has never happened before and that Boeing, as a company, is in uncharted territory.