Boeing 737 MAX: Lessons Learned from the Grounding of an Icon

Boeing 737 MAX

Boeing 737 MAX: Boeing 737 MAX Grounding & Re-certification after Two Subsquent fatal crash, What lesson learnt?


On March 10, 2019, the Boeing 737 MAX 8 was grounded by aviation authorities around the world after two fatal crashes in five months.

This had been a massive blow to Boeing, which had seen billions of dollars wiped off its stockmarket value. The company is now under pressure to prove that its planes are safe to fly again. After a regrious process Boeing succeeded to get Re-certification of the said aircraft.

In this article, we’re going to look at what went wrong with the 737 MAX 8, and how Boeing can make sure it never happens again.

MAX 8 makes debut

The Boeing 737 MAX 8 made its much-anticipated debut in 2017.

The 737 MAX 8 is the latest and most advanced version of the 737, Boeing's best-selling jetliner. The MAX 8 features a number of improvements over earlier 737 models, including more fuel-efficient engines and a redesigned cabin.

The 737 MAX 8 has been hailed as one of the most technologically advanced aircraft in the skies, but its recent grounding has called into question the safety of Boeing's marquee product.

Lion Air crash

On October 29, 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea just minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 people on board.

The airplane, a Boeing 737 MAX 8, was less than four months old and the first crash of a 737 MAX. The plane had been delivered to Lion Air in August and had only flown 800 hours.

The cause of the crash investigation suggested that the airplane's Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) may have played a role. The MCAS is a new feature on the 737 MAX that was added to address concerns that the plane was too unstable to fly at low speeds.

Ethiopian Airlines Crash

Another Crash in 4 months 12 days, On March 10, 2019, Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, a 737 MAX 8 with the registration ET-AVJ, crashed six minutes after takeoff on a scheduled flight from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, to Nairobi, Kenya, killing all 149 passengers and eight staff members on board.

In the aftermath of the crash, Boeing and Lion Air both came under fire for their roles in the disaster. Boeing has been accused of rushing the 737 MAX into production and not doing enough to warn pilots of the MCAS system. Lion Air has been accused of not properly training pilots on how to use the MCAS system.

Both companies have since taken steps to improve safety procedures and training. Boeing has updated its software and manuals for the 737 MAX, and Lion Air has instituted new pilot training requirements.

Investigation and fallout

Following the two deadly subsquent crashes of the Boeing 737 MAX within 4 month 10, days, investigations were launched in order to figure out what had gone wrong.

Much of the investigation focused on the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which was a new addition to the 737 MAX that had been introduced in order to increase the plane's fuel efficiency.

While the MCAS was determined to be a factor in both crashes, there were other issues that were also uncovered, such as faulty sensors and Boeing's failure to properly inform pilots about the existence of the MCAS.

As a result of the investigations, Boeing was forced to ground all 737 MAX planes worldwide, a move that cost the company billions of dollars.

Re-certification process

The grounding of the 737 MAX had been a costly and embarrassing debacle for Boeing. In order to get the planes back in the air, Boeing  had to gone through an extensive re-certification process.

This process had been long and arduous, as the FAA and other aviation regulators around the world have been rigorous in their inspections. The re-certification had involved detailed analysis of every system on the plane, as well as rigorous testing.

The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) of the 737 MAX had a reoccurring failure, resulting in two deadly crashes, Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, with a total of 346 people killed. From March 2019 to November 2020, it was grounded all over the world. Investigations found that Boeing hid a known issue and that the FAA failed to properly certify the plane for flight. Boeing agreed to pay over $2.5 billion in penalties and compensation after being charged with fraud.

On November 18, 2020, the FAA approved the return to service, subject to required design and training adjustments. In late January 2021, Canadian and European officials followed, followed by Chinese authorities in early December, with nearly 180 countries out of 195 lifting the grounding. In November 2020, over 450 MAX aircraft were on order; 335 remained in January 2022. By the end of 2023, Boeing predicted that the backlog would be mostly cleared.

Boeing had stated that it is confident in the new software it has developed, but the re-certification process will be crucial to restoring public confidence in the 737 MAX.

Boeing's Response

Boeing has been facing a lot of heat in the past few years, and for good reason. After all, their 737 MAX aircraft had been grounded worldwide after two fatal crashes.

Many are outraged at the company, calling for greater transparency and accountability. Boeing has announced that it will be creating a board committee to investigate the Max design and development, as well as compensation for the victims' families.

While this is a good start, many are still not satisfied. It will be crucial for Boeing to be completely transparent and open with their investigations, as well as their plans for the future. The flying public deserves to know what went wrong and how it will be fixed.

Looking ahead

The grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX has been a massive blow to the aviation giant, but the company is already looking ahead and making changes to ensure that such an incident never happens again.

Boeing had announced that it will be implementing a number of new safety features on its planes, including a software update and enhanced pilot training. The company is also promising to be more transparent with its regulators and customers going forward.

While the grounding of the 737 MAX had been a costly setback for Boeing, it appears that the company is learning from its mistakes and is committed to making things right.


The grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX had been a wake-up call for the aviation industry. Airlines and aircraft manufacturers will have to take a hard look at their certification processes to ensure that something like this doesn't happen again. Pilots also need to be better trained on the new software that is now being used in the 737 MAX.

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