Semantron 23 Summer 2023

The Boeing 737 Max crisis

The aim of this essay is to find out whether or not the B737 MAX crisis was due to human error and, if yes, to what extent? What did we learn from this painful lesson which costs 346 lives? What could we do to prevent another aviation crisis from happening?

The Boeing Company & the Boeing 737 family

Established on 15 th July 1916, 7 the Boeing Company has been a leading aircraft manufacturer since then. ‘ Safety is and always will be our (Boeing’s) top priority . . . we pledge to remain focused, vigilant and humble in our work. ’ 8 With more than 10,000 Boeing-built commercial jets in service worldwide now, 9 history has proven Boeing’s ability to make ‘airworthy’ planes. 10

Figure 2: Emergency Airworthiness Directives issued by the FAA on 7 th November 2018

The Boeing 737 aircraft, Boeing’s bestselling aircraft, with 15,482 orders from 1968 till now, 11 and 10,877 delivered, 12 is

ranked the second best-selling aircraft, and is the best-selling passenger jet. When the Boeing 737 Originals (B737-100, -200) rolled out in 1968, and the Boeing 737 Classics (B737-300, -400, -500) in 1984, they were aimed at short to medium-haul operations, with ranges of 1720nm (nautical miles) in B737-100 to 2950nm in B737-500, while the range of the New Generations (NG) range from 3200nm to

4500nm. 13 The B737 MAX is aimed at competing with Airbus’ A320neo aircraft, and acts as a replacement aircraft of the older 737 aircraft, which have similar ranges. The first B737 MAX flight took off on 29 th January 2016, the first was delivered in 2017, and the family (MAX7, MAX8, MAX8-200, MAX9, MAX10) received a total of 5,263 orders as of November 2020. 14 It is still the second best-selling B737 family aircraft, ranking after the B737NGs, followed by the B737 Originals and B737 Classics. 15

Figure 3: Boeing 737 order and delivery history

7 The Boeing Company 2016, The Centennial . 8 The Boeing Company [n.d.], Safety at Boeing . 9 The Boeing Company [n.d.], Boeing in Brief . 10 SKYbrary [n.d.], Airworthiness . 11 Brady 2021, The Boeing 737 Technical Guide, 83 rd ed : 35. 12 Aviación al día 2022, These are the world’s best -selling aircraft. 13 Brady 2021, The Boeing 737 Technical Guide, 83 rd ed : 361, 363, 365. 14 Brady 2021, The Boeing 737 Technical Guide, 83 rd ed : 361, 363, 365. 15 The Boeing 737 Technical Site [n.d.], Sales .


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