The 737 MAX is the most controversial plane of the 21st century. The MAX is based on a 50-year-old design, in fact, its initial launch was before man walked on the moon or when computers the size of entire rooms were as powerful as your mobile phone but after Boeing lost 69 more orders for the MAX it begs the question, was reinventing the half-century-old design a mistake?
The first Boeing 737 was launched by Boeing in 1965 as the Boeing 737-100, it was a short and stubby thing and entered service with Lufthansa in 1968, in the 60’s it’s fair to say engine technology was “basic” in comparison to modern-day tech. Engines were long and small, they weren’t efficient but did the job. This forms the problem of the 737 MAX, no one in 1965 would have predicted a jet based off the same design would be flying 50 or so years later, it’s like if you told people in the '60s that twin-engined jets would be flying over the Pacific, they would laugh. This old design wasn’t meant to be flying in the 2010s and according to Boeings then-president they didn’t even want to re-engine the 737, the design had passed its use-by date and they wanted a clean-sheet design. The reason the MAX exists? The A320neo. The A320 had an advantage though, it was designed 20 years later, engines and technology were advancing and they made it higher off the ground. Boeing pushed out the MAX early to compete with the A320neo seemingly without adequate testing. For reference, the 737 is so low due to 1960’s technology with the lack of aerobridges and modern machinery, the A320, however, say this technology evolving and was designed to meet the tech evolution. Using the old 737 design with new more efficient engines meant Boeing had to make changes to an old design, they made the wings higher and implemented computer technology to counter the effect, MCAS, as it’s known, was floored, pilots had been trained on an iPad and the sensors weren’t working properly and had inadequate backup systems. Yet the FFA trusted Boeing, they certified them mainly because of trust, not thinking Boeing would build a killing machine, it seemed as Boeing seemed to want to milk as much money from an old design as possible, this milking ended in disaster, killing 346 innocent people in 2 separate crashes
I should mention there’s a lot more to this and I’ve only covered a brief portion of the all of this. Was the MAX a mistake though? In my opinion, no. While poor pilot training is a major fault as well as some design faults, its specs are really good. The MAX won’t fly again for a while and personally I don’t trust the FAA, I want my countries aviation safety authority to certify and I know there’s a lot of trusts lost in the FAA, time will tell what happens but the safety of hundreds of passengers is worth adequate safety checks
Virgin Australia has delayed it’s 737 MAX deliveries until 2021 image credit