Following two crashes in the span of five months, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) decided to ground every Boeing 737 MAX around the world in March of 2019. The model’s first crash occurred on Oct. 29, 2018 on a Lion Air flight from Jakarta. The second crash was on March 10, 2019 when an Ethiopian Air flight experienced the same problems as the Lion Air one. Combined, these crashes resulted in 346 fatalities.
Now, a year and a half later, the FAA has decided to retract this decision and it has rolled out a plan of how to safely re-introduce the aircraft to commercial aviation. The predominant cause of these crashes was the aircraft's maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS). This complex part of the aircraft has since been refined to prevent further accidents. The FAA says that all pilots will be trained in how to work the MCAS and how to troubleshoot it. The plan proposed by the FAA, however. does not mean that the aircrafts will return to the sky immediately.
With all of the scrutiny that Boeing and the FAA have faced since the fatal accidents, it is safe to say that the reinstatement of the aircraft has not been taken lightly by either organization. The involved parties have made it incredibly clear that safety is the utmost priority. That being said, aerospace engineering, unfortunately, can never be perfect. The distrust built against Boeing and the FAA will make its entrance back into the market incredibly difficult. However, major airlines such as United Airlines have announced that they will be introducing the aircraft back into their fleet. United plans to reintroduce the aircraft at two of their largest hubs within the first quarter of 2021. American Airlines plans to introduce the aircraft as early as Dec. 29, 2020. Transparency is crucial in this situation, so major airlines have said that they will be letting flyers know if their aircraft is a Boeing 737 MAX prior to booking it.
With all of the uncertainty in the world right now, it may not be the best time to reintroduce an aircraft that is responsible for the death of so many people. Even with the FAA ensuring the safety of the aircraft, many remain against its reintroduction. Some of these people include Nadia Milleron and Michael Stumo, who lost their daughter Samya in the Ethiopian Air 737 MAX crash. The parents of the 24 year-old told ABC, “[We] will warn every single person [we] know to look at the equipment that they are flying on and make sure that they don’t fly on a 737 MAX.”
These parents are not alone. In follow-up interviews with ABC, many family members of the victims reiterated the same feelings towards the reintroduction of the 737 MAX. One mother who lost her daughter and son-in-law even went so far to say, “I wouldn’t recommend to anyone in my family to fly the Boeing MAX aircraft.” It will be an interesting reintroduction for the Boeing 737 MAX, to say the least. This debate is far from over, and the safety of passengers hangs in the balance.