Boeing 737 530 Max: Have They Got It Wrong?

The Boeing Commercial Airplanes is a world leader in the world of Aircraft manufacturing. Among its peers in the industry, the only strong challenger it has in terms of size and output is the European Aerospace Corporation- Airbus. Boeing has myriads of aircraft of different sizes to fit diverse niches within the Airline market. Among its many aircraft models is the popular 737 series.

The Boeing 737 first appeared in 1967 with the 737-100. It was a short to medium range twin-jet narrow body airliner. It morphed into the 737 Classic, Boeing 737 Next Generation and finally 737 MAX. The 737 series has the record of being the highest-selling commercial jetliner in history.

The transition form one model to the other majorly involved tweaking size to increase capacity, addition of modern avionics. One constant observation is that each upgrade mostly involve the introduction of bigger and more powerful engines. This is relatively observed in the latest upgrade from 737 Next Generation to the 737 MAX.

The upgrade this time around has brought many problems. Based on market pressure in trying to outdo each other, Boeing and Airbus are always breathing down on each others back. It is a well known phenomenon that in the IT world, companies rush out brand new hardware systems before they have perfected the supporting software drivers. This design methodology has finally infected the Airline manufacturing business a la Boeing. In order to beat Airbus A320 family to the customer, its looking as if it rushed out a brand new 737 design without finalizing the control system software. This has led to the loss of two aircraft, and about 346 lives within a period of 5 months. The two systems that are being suspected are the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) and the autopilot/auto-throttle. These systems have been observed to take on a mind of their own mid-flight while overriding the pilot’s control input.

It is not a farfetched to say that the 737-350 MAX is a masterpiece of beauty. With the introduction of new features such as new “split tip” winglet on the wing tip to maximize lift, engine Nacelle with chevrons edge for noise reduction and a re-contoured tail cone, revised auxiliary power unit inlet and exhaust coupled with a more powerful engines. When it comes to design and quality, the Americans leads. In addition, in the world of Aviation, the FAA dictates what other countries’ regulatory agencies do.

This time around though, it seems both Boeing and FAA have got it all wrong. What is the essence of a beautiful plane that keeps crashing. It is evident that the company would eventually fix the cause of the plane’s instability permanently, but this might take some time. Maybe this is the amount of time it should have waited before launching the classical plane. Maybe…

For such a new aircraft to suffer two devastating crashes in swift succession is quite unusual and serious and raises doubts about the trustworthiness of its mother company. Before now, Boeing has kept sparkling records when it comes to the safety of their designs; its most recent design iteration, the 787, has never had a fatality, while the 777 that preceded it ran for 18 years without one.