In 2019 when a grounding order was imposed on the Boeing 737 MAX, there were issues as to whether they would ever fly again. After the two crashes that occurred, there were serious questions asked about their safety. Altogether there were 346 people killed in the crashes that happened in Indonesia and Ethiopia. As they were just months apart, there was concern that there would be more of the same. The anger was hot target for some time, and as both had the same fault, some people called for the whole fleet to be grounded.
The return date has split opinion; relatives of the victims feel that it is far too early. On the other hand, Boeing had hoped it to be a year earlier than it was. Families did not feel confident that there had been enough research carried out as well as the disappointment. As Boeing had originally tried to blame the pilots for the crashes, there was concern that they were not taking the problems seriously enough. They also feel let down as there is still a court case in progress.
Is the Plane Safe now?
According to both the FAA and Boeing, it is. They are convinced that the issue that led to the crashes has been dealt with. With both safety experts and pilots happy with the changes, it seems they are ready to fly again. Only time will tell, and Boeing must be aware they have a lot to prove. That is also going to be the case for the regulators. Both claim safety is paramount.
Boeing needs to understand that time has marched on from the time of the ban. COVID-19 has changed travel around the world, and the 747 MAX may not be able to slip back into space once filled. Travel is no longer big business, and new planes are not needed in the way they were. No one is going to be putting in orders for new aircraft as regularly as they once did. If there are enough companies providing planes, airlines may decide to go to a company other than Boeing. Looking to the future, however, they still feel that the 747 MAX will be needed.
Now it is only the United States who has lifted the order. Officials in Europe say they are close to deciding but are not quite there yet. They seem confident enough to say that it will be the same as the USA. As the UK and European Union officials are working closely on this, the decision likely made will apply to all member states. Further afield, there will probably be more time needed as China does not seem to be keen on returning to their use.
Use of 747 MAX
There are a few airlines that use the 747 MAX. American Airlines is planning to bring its own back into use quickly. United Airlines and Southwest Airlines also plan to resume flights.