Home >Companies >News >How 737 Max 8, Boeing's workhorse, flew into safety troubles

The crash of a Boeing 737 Max 8 on Sunday killing all 157 on board is the second time in five months that the aircraft has been involved in an accident. In October, a Lion Air Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed, killing all 189 people on board. Mint analyses the issues regarding the Boeing workhorse.

What is the Boeing 737 Max 8?

It’s a single-aisle, narrow-body plane with a maximum of 210 seats, three on each side, and has a range of 6,570km. The aircraft has a length of 39.52m and a wingspan of 35.9m. Its LEAP-1B engine is supplied by CFM International Inc., a joint venture of GE Aviation and Safran Aircraft Engines SAS. The plane is used on transatlantic and transcontinental routes as well.

The Boeing 737 Max 8, The Wall Street Journal reports quoting analysts, represents about two-thirds of Boeing’s future deliveries and about 40% of its profit. The firm now makes 52 units of the 737 every month and plans to take that up to 57 by the end of 2019.

What could have led to the crashes?

The Boeing 737 Max 8 has larger engines that are positioned differently. It tends to pitch its nose up, which is not a factor when autopilot is on. To ensure control in times of manual operation, the plane’s software—manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system—automatically pushes the nose down if the sensor finds it too high. It is also possible that the plane’s so-called angle-of-attack provides false readings, causing it to abruptly dive to regain the speed the computer has calculated it needs to keep flying at. Pilots can regain control of the jet by following a checklist, but lack of training can hurt that ability.

How old is the Boeing 737 Max 8?

It is less than two years old. The Boeing 737 Max 8 is among the more than dozen versions of the original 737 that came into being in 1967. The Max 8 had its first commercial flight in 2017.

What are airlines and regulators saying?

More than 20 airlines, including those in Australia and Singapore, have grounded their Boeing 737 Max 8s. But the US, which sets the standards in aviation, has not taken any drastic action. In India, which banned the aircraft on Tuesday night, the aviation regulator said all Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft would be grounded by 4pm on Wednesday.

How will the ban impact aviation in India?

India's ban on Boeing 737 Max planes is set to disrupt country's aviation indusry as flight cancellations and surge in flight ticket prices are expected to kick in over the next few days. When flights are cancelled, airlines’ priority shifts to accommodating the affected passengers—which discourages fresh ticket bookings at reduced prices.

Information about the number of flights cancelled on Wednesday was not immediately available at the time of publishing. Passengers may also have to deal with situations of missing connecting flights.

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