In July, Boeing reported its worst ever quarterly-loss, at $3.4 billion. This is due to their 737 Max, a plane that has been plagued by poor design which resulted in tragic and avoidable deaths.
Currently, the model has been grounded, and production is down, but not cancelled. Should they scrap the 737 Max design?
What Went Wrong With The Boeing 737 Max?
The Boeing 737 Max model featured new software called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), designed to keep planes stable in flight and stop them from stalling.
Pilots weren’t told about the software, nor were they trained in how to handle it. This resulted in two crashes, which killed a total of 346 people.
The plane had been one of the fastest selling in history, yet was suddenly considered a disaster waiting to happen. The entire fleet of 737 Max models was grounded in March, and still have not been cleared for service. In April, production of the model slowed by 20%. This level has continued, even though demand for the model has plummeted. This has resulted in a surplus of planes with nowhere to store them – a plane has even been parked in the staff carpark because there is simply nowhere else for it to go.
What Boeing Should Learn
The crashes were a direct result of Boeing putting profit before safety. Boeing and all other manufacturers should look at their processes, and think about every element of their business in terms of safety.
While the problem with the software should have been more rigorously tested and fixed before being installed on the planes, the pilots should also have been notified and trained on how to use the it. Because the software was installed without them knowing, they had no way of knowing was went wrong in the moments before the crash.
The modified software has since been tested in over 200 simulations. It’s not yet been sent to regulators for approval, and will likely face a higher level of scrutiny than any software ever run through the system, for good reason.
Will Boeing Cancel The 737 Max Permanently?
Boeing boss Dennis Muilenburg has said that the plane should be back in the air by October of 2019. The company seems to think that, at worst, they should only need a temporary shutdown of production, rather than a full-blown cancellation of the model.
However, the Federal Aviation Administration has stated that there is no timeline for approving safety upgrades, prompting some experts to believe we won’t see the model in the air again until 2020, or perhaps even later.
The FAA discovered another problem with the plane’s flight control system in June, leading many to speculate that Boeing has much more work to do before the Max will fly again.
This is all having a knock-on impact on Boeing’s bottom line. Boeing expects the cost of manufacturing the plane to rise by $2.7 billion due to production slowdowns. Between this and the cost of the fleet being grounded, the model is now the most expensive in the company’s history.
If things stay the way they are, and the FAA blocks the model from returning to active duty, Boeing may have no choice but to cancel the model permanently.
Read more about what the aviation industry should learn from Boeing, or learn the best Aerospace companies to work for in 2019.