In the month of October 2018, the newest member of Boeing’s 737 narrow-body family- 737 Max crashed in the Java Sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia.
After staying grounded for almost two years because of two deadly crashes in a span of five months, the Boeing 737 Max aircraft is finally getting back to the skies. After clearances came in from regulators in the United States and Europe, announcing the aircraft safe to fly, at least 18 airlines have started operating commercial flights, according to an IE report. In the month of October 2018, the newest member of Boeing’s 737 narrow-body family- 737 Max crashed in the Java Sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia. Then another aircraft of the same model crashed in Ethiopia in March 2019. Both these plane accidents killed 346 people in total.
Following the second plane crash in Ethiopia, global aviation authorities decided to ground the aircraft pending an investigation into the cause behind the plane crashes. During that time, several airlines including large carriers such as United, Southwest, American, Air Canada, Indian carrier SpiceJet, were operating the 737 Max aircraft in their fleets. During the investigation of the crashes, it was found that the main cause of both the plane accidents was a design flaw in the most modern jetliner.
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The latest model of Boeing 737 is installed with manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system. The MCAS is responsible for pushing the nose of the aircraft down when it senses a high angle of attack that may result in an aircraft stall. If the nose of a plane is too high, the aircraft loses speed and it is likely to enter a stall- a state in which it loses flight and from the sky, it can fall like a stone. The designing of MCAS has been done in a way to prevent such an eventuality. In case of the two plane crashes, during the ascent, the MCAS falsely misread the plane’s angle of attack and forced the plane nose down resulting in the crash. It was, however, not only a technical flaw that led to the plane accidents. Besides, several shortcomings were also found out during the course of the investigation with the processes laid down by Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration.
After all the deficiencies were discovered during the investigation, corrective measures were being introduced, including rectifying the MCAS by Boeing as well as setting up of simulators and training centres in order to train pilots about the MCAS. Last year in November, the restrictions on Boeing 737 Max were lifted by the FAA, and various other jurisdictions including Japan, the UK, the UAE, Europe, Brazil, Canada, Australia approved the return of the aircraft to flight following technical modifications as well as additional pilot training. While China, which was the first nation to ban the plane back in the year 2019, is yet to approve the return to flight. Also in India, the DGCA has said that it would permit the sole Indian carrier operating this aircraft model to fly the plane after it has carried out its own safety validation tests.
On Monday, Fly Dubai- a West Asian low-cost carrier announced that it would return the aircraft to service 8 April 2021 onwards. The airline will join other carriers including United, Aeromexico, Brazil’s Gol, American, TUI Group’s Belgian carrier TUI fly Belgium, Copa Airlines, Czech carrier Smartwings and Alaska Airlines have resumed flight services on the 737 Max. Southwest, an American low-cost airline, which has the world’s largest fleet of 737 Max planes, also resumed operations on the model last month, the report added.