March 10, 2019. It’s a day that Boeing will never forget. For the second time in only a matter of months, Boeing’s brand spanking new jet had gone down. On that one day in March 157 innocent people were killed due to a plane that arguably should have never been in the air in the first place, the next-generation aircraft wasn’t ready and ultimately Boeing had put cash savings over safety. 1 and a half years after the crash and subsequent groundings the MAX is back, so what does the future hold for an aircraft that has put a giant hole in the reputation of one of the world’s greatest aircraft manufacturers?
Well, firstly I should say it’s going to be interesting. The MAX has reentered service at quite possibly the worst possible time for many countries however it’s back nonetheless. A Brazilian airline by the name of GOL operated the first flight this morning from Sao Paulo to Porto Alegre. At the time of writing the aircraft is just on final after it’s 1hr 10min flight, a huge sigh of relief for Boeing. Four U.S based airlines (American, United, Alaska and Southwest) will begin flying the birds either by the end of the month or early next year even with a fair slice of their other narrowbodies grounded due to the obvious. This is good news and the even better news is that the Europeans are expected to let the troubled bird fly over their skies once again. But it’s not all good news for the MAX
Cancelled orders have kept Boeing up at night with 536 orders gone from their books just this year, even a return to service couldn’t hold the line for the MAX Virgin Australia cancelled over half their orders just today. Consumer confidence also isn’t the highest and airlines are seemingly taking note, GOL has offered to refund anyone who chooses not to travel on their MAX flights due to safety concerns while other regulators are taking their time in regards to the approval of the MAX. It’s tricky, people may choose not to fly on the MAX even after it is approved due to safety fears which could result in half-empty MAX’s flying around while an A330, for example, is heaving with holidaymakers keen to avoid the thing. But what’s the future of the troubled airliner?
Well, you could quite accurately compare the MAX’s mistakes with the DC-10. Cargo door issues plagued the tri-jet and it made people question if it would ever fly again. Spoiler alert: it did. They fixed the issues and by 2000 it had a safety record that was as good as the 747’s. And even with the initial issues, Mcdonnell Douglas’s tri-jet served American Airlines for 29 years and in an even better proof of longevity, a 47-year-old DC-10 is still flying around the country for FedEx. So what about the MAX? The issues won’t be forgotten but over time I expect the MAX to prove it’s worth and it’s reliability over time. It most likely won’t become the cult classic that the DC-10 is but nonetheless, I’d expect to become a legend in the aviation world and prove that you can fix your mistakes. And in terms of dates to mark in your calender? December 8, 2067, 47 years from now. Long live the 737 MAX
The boss of the friendly skies, the DC-10 back in the day