Why Passengers Should Fly On The 737 MAX When It Is Re-certified

The Boeing 737 MAX is currently undergoing one of the longest and most through FAA examinations of all time. Experts are combing through every nut, bolt, and sub-system to evaluate the safety of the aircraft. Thus, should passengers be worried about the aircraft when it is eventually recertified? Or should they declare never to fly on the type again?

737 MAX
The Boeing 737 MAX has a long journey to go until it’s recertified. Photo: Boeing

Problems with the Boeing 737 MAX

The Boeing 737 MAX aircraft has had a troubled history so far. Introduced back in 2008 as a rival to the Airbus A320neo series, the type has always been an aircraft of compromise.

Boeing incorporated the latest technology into a design some say was ‘perfected’ back in the 1960s. However, the basic 737 design that has not been updated since then, and therefore has not taken into account increases in engine design, weight issues or the ‘case-in-point’ aerodynamics of a modern aircraft.

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Thus Boeing found a shortcut. Simply put, instead of just redesigning the aircraft from the ground up, Boeing used software to compensate for flaws in the aerodynamics of the airframe caused by engines that were just too big for the frame. This software, if fed the wrong sensor information, could result in the auto-pilot yanking away control from the pilots and causing the aircraft to rapidly descend.

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This situation occurred twice, plunging two Boeing 737 MAXs in Indonesia and Africa to crash, killing all on board.

The aircraft was subsequently grounded and now is under heavy scrutiny by the FAA and authorities from multiple countries.

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Boeing 737 MAX
Boeing’s 737 MAX grounding will likely continue through the rest of the year. Photo: Boeing

How is the aircraft type being re-certified?

The aircraft is currently being examined by multiple national aerospace government agencies as part of the IATA investigation. Some are:

  • The US FAA, who are under the most pressure to not only redeem themselves (they originally approved the aircraft) and to get the Boeing MAX series back up in the air for their homegrown manufacturer.
  • Transport Canada and European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have both said they will examine the 737 MAX separately, rather than just rely on the FAA findings.
  • The Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore, whose approval is critical to get the aircraft to fly in South East Asia.
  • Indonesia’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation and Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority, both of whom clearly have a vested interest in the investigations.
  • And many others representing different airspaces and airlines around the world.

These agencies are routinely meeting to compare notes and discuss next steps. Part of the complication is that once Boeing has found a fix, they will need to roll it out and test it with every airline that operates the type.

“The Boeing 737 MAX tragedies weigh heavily on an industry that holds safety as its top priority. We trust the Federal Aviation Administration, in its role as the certifying regulator, to ensure the aircraft’s safe return to service. And we respect the duty of regulators around the world to make independent decisions on FAA’s recommendations,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.

Boeing 737 MAX
The Boeing 737 MAX has some major design flaws. Photo: Clemens Vasters via Flickr

Should you fly on the Boeing 737 MAX?

Once the Boeing 737 MAX is recertified (which it will be, as there is too much money invested in the series), should you fly on it?

The aircraft is being examined so rigorously by so many agencies that it is almost impossible that there will be another crash due to the MCAS. Passengers could take confidence that independent organizations, well outside the influence of Boeing or the FAA, have looked over every part of the aircraft and are satisfied with its safety. Plus, now every Boeing 737 MAX pilot is aware of the issue and knows how to avoid it in the future.

Additionally, it’s worth mentioning that the Boeing 737 MAX 10, the largest variant, actually does have slightly different aerodynamics than the other models. Thus passengers could take comfort knowing that this type is unlikely to suffer from the same problem.

What do you think? Will you fly on the Boeing 737 MAX when it is recertified? 

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Farai

Anything that’s been checked and certified by EASA I will fly on. Although i’ll give it a few months before hopping on just to make sure.

Tom Boon

I think this is my view though. After what’s happened I highly doubt the aircraft will be recertified unless regulators are certain it is safe.

Adrian Cook

The answer to the question is reserved no. Although the FAA is going over it with a so called “fine tooth comb”, this should have been done before it took to the skies. I personally would be very reluctant to fly in it. I have flown Boeing and Airbus. As a mere passenger, to me Airbus was quieter and a much more pleasant airplane to fly in

DaH

It will likely become the safest airliner in the air. It’s not THAT different from the 737NG, which is well understood. Can you image this level of scrutiny applied to every other airliner? All of them have issues, but certainly not as profound as the MCAS debacle.
I flew on MAX’s before the grounding, and will do so again without fear. I bet airlines remove the big MAX logo off the front as to not spook the uniformed…

Frank

spook the uniformed…

You mean like those pilots who were uninformed that MCAS was operating on their aircraft, pushing the nose down as they fought it all the way to the ground – those uninformed?

daH

Of course not, I’m talking about the scores of folks reading conspiratorial nonsense on social media, which sadly is a big group.

Yes, even Boeing test pilots weren’t made fully aware of MCAS!

Frank

I guess you miss the point entirely. The ‘uninformed’ as you put it are entirely justified – given the amount of smoke and mirrors Boeing has put out to cover their tracks. Fact is – the 737Max is grounded, not because of some conspiracy theorists, but because it is unsafe and has killed over 350 people. It still remains unsafe and will for it’s entire life, using a software kludge to guard against an inherit instability caused by pushing the design to it’s limits, in search of profits. The ‘uninformed’ are not the ones at fault – Boeing and the… Read more »

Observer33210

The big problem for me is this. If the FAA had been functioning properly, right from the beginning, they would probably not have allowed the engines of the Max to be placed in the wrong position, causing the tendency to stall. Now they are only trying to compensate for this structural aerodynamic flaw as best as they can. Because of this aerodynamic flaw, there is no way the Max can ever be the “safest airliner”!

Muhammad Asim

Being a Mechanical Engineer, it is very clear to me that a design flaw vulnerability can’t be covered/compensated with a software. Yes, you may make it a temporary thing, but in the longer run the sleeping giant of flawed decisions may wake up and cause the unexpected.

Norman

A strange article which deepens my distrust of the plane and the maker viz:- 1) Why Passengers SHOULD Fly On The 737 MAX When It Is Re-certified …followed by… 2) this 737 design that has not been updated has not taken into account increases in engine design, weight issues or the ‘case-in-point’ aerodynamics of a modern aircraft. 3) Boeing found a shortcut 4) flaws in the aerodynamics of the airframe caused by too big engines. 5) It is likely that Boeing is using its powerful connections with the US government to try and approve the aircraft as quickly as possible… Read more »

Bob Braan

No. The 737 Max never should have been certified in the first place. “At the hearing into the MAX crashes… Sullenberger strongly rejected the suggestion that pilot error was to blame for the accidents.” “according to Sullenberger, the original version of the MCAS, “was fatally flawed and should never have been approved”. Boeing said the 737 Max was safe 4 times, so far, when it was not. Why would anyone believe anything they say about safety now? Clearly safety is not a priority at Boeing at all. What else is wrong with it? In spite of all the mistakes that… Read more »

Shaquille

Even before the grounding and to this day i would fly in a MAX. As long as the airline i am flying with has competent pilots and high guidelines & expectations, I have absolutely nothing to worry about.

People are quick to hop in a lyft or uber with no thought about it but are scared to get in a plane. Statistically i have an astronomically higher chance of being killed in an accident or murdered/kidnapped by my driver before dying in a plane crash.

Can’t wait until they’re back in the air!

Sebastian Roy

Remember that statistics came from a time where Boeing was an engineering company and they didn’t cut corners for profits.

krumdriller

I would fly on it today. There were many flights before the two crashes. Is the plane that dangerous or was part of the problem the experience of the pilots?

Observer33210

The Max now has 2 crashes in about 500,000 flights. Given that there are about 100,000 flights daily, we can look at it this way. If all planes are 737 Max, we will be getting about 3 crashes every week! I will not get on such a plane.

Nigel

A few comments: – IF indeed (and that’s a big IF) “every nut, bolt, and sub-system” on this plane is being combed through, then it’s not being done by Boeing, but is instead being done by regulators. It’s shameful to think that the recent processor shortcoming was pointed out by the FAA, and that the trim wheel strength issue was raised by a foreign regulator. Despite everything that has happened, it seems that Boeing is still unable / unwilling to do a proper FMEA / technical due diligence on this aircraft, and is instead only reacting on a piecemeal basis… Read more »

Blair

NO, I will never fly the 737 MAX, and for that matter, I will not fly on the 787 either. While the MAX has numerous flaws in its design and software, the build quality of the 787 is highly suspect. Any plane not made in Seattle is not safe to fly on, in my personal opinion.

ExPatBrit

“Any plane not made in Seattle is not safe to fly on, in my personal opinion”

No commercial airplanes are actually made in Seattle.

Boeing 737 (all versions) RENTON WA
Boeing 747, 767, 777,787 EVERETT WA
Boeing 787 CHARLOTTE NC
That statement also eliminates Airbus and Embraer.

Bob Braan

No. At this point after the billions of dollars the 737 Max disasters will cost Boeing it would have been less expensive for Boeing to develop a brand new, composite, modern, single aisle design based on 787 type tech with taller gear to suit modern engines and no MCAS. That was the original engineering plan at Boeing but sales and upper management killed that idea as well as 346 passengers. Instead they tried to update an ancient 60s design once again with fatal results. Airbus/Bombardier will likely develop such an aircraft the capacity of the 737 based on the new… Read more »

Alex

Aircraft design has become so complicated that automation (designed to reduce complexity) often hides potential issues laying deep within a design. This is especially evident now with the engineering Boeing adopted to make the 737 MAX competitive against the new generations of airliners. No doubt that after this tragedy the authorities will be extra thorough when it comes to aircraft certification, and that itself gives me enough confidence when it comes to flying on a new aircraft type. Meanwhile Boeing should refocus on drawing up a new product line, design a new small airplane with technology from the 787 and… Read more »

daH

Well said!

daH

Agree. Well said!

Frank

Old Boeing that made the 747, 757, 767 was good. This new Boeing full of bean counters and CYA lawyers….not so much

KP

Add a few feet to the landing gear — tuck the engines under the wing some more — call it the Boeing 737neo and kill the MCAS– if it crashes then — its pilot error right?

Frank

…cause you are an aeronautical engineer and have all the answers, right? No – methinks that if it was as simple as extending the gear, it would have been done. The gear is probably as big as it can get, in the space it has. Any further gear changes would require a re-design, hence a new aircraft; something which Boeing is clearly trying to avoid. Reading up on the history of the 737, you see that it was designed low to the ground, before jetways, some even with ladders attached for ease of passenger loading. It’s mature design that has… Read more »

Sebastian Roy

Exactly. They had to move the engines because they couldn’t extend the gear. That was the first idea, but it didn’t work out.

TIM

Will I fly in a Max? Absolutely Not!! The main problem is not the software but the engine! Its too much engine for this design. The software is required to stabilize the plane because of the oversized engines. Fixing the software just paints over the main problem.

The 737-800 is an awesome plane, the right amount of everything, they should of stopped right there! The Max is a variant gone too far and a accident waiting to happen yet again…

kilonzo

still got the trust to fly it….with all those agencies, it will be one of the safest

Peter Breedveld

I think regulators will not approve this plane flying again until they are very sure it is safe. Regulators know people are paying attention and will be very careful before giving this plane the thumbs up.

Tom Boon

I agree Peter.

Koh Ls

Mr.Nichloas Cummins, The argument for why passengers should fly the Max is not only totally flawed but also premature. You check something first. Only if it passes the tests, then you ok it. You dont argue for its safety before the tests are done, and certainly not just because too much money has been spent on it. Whoever wrote this title or published this article is not only irresponsible but needs to have his cabling re-wired up there. Too many lives have been unneccessarily lost and yet we still have people who refuse to learn the fundamentals and still place… Read more »

WordsMatter

I don’t believe the “… every nut, bolt, and sub-system …” part in the article. Even after all the evaluations, tests and the possible recertification of the 737 MAX, it will still be a 1967 airframe with new larger engines it was never intended to be matched with. If Boeing hadn’t already manufactured and sold as many of these aircraft as they have, this configuration would surely have been scrapped now. For me the real question now is whether, in particular the FAA, is truly and completely independent and fully equipped to do their evaluations, without any external pressure. I… Read more »

Dennis E Sullens

I worked for Boeing Commercial Aircraft Company for 19 year’s, and 10 year’s as an Asst. Quality Assurance Mgr. for a certified supplier to Boeing. My 29 year’s experience lead’s me to this opinion: Boeing had a design problem with the height of the wing and the larger, stronger jet engines unable to have the FAA Reg. 18 inches above the tarmac clearance. So they raised the front landing gear only 2 inches, and brought the big engine forward, and up in front of the wing where it should NOT be. This meant the aerodynamics of the Max did NOT… Read more »

Dennis E Sullens

The other thing wrong (there are many) with MCAS on the 737 Max is to turn off the Autopilot System on all the prior 737’s, next Generation and older, all you have to do is jerk on the Yoke, and the Autopilot System will disengage. It is as if you were driving a car on Cruise Control to disengage you simply tap the brake pedal. It’s universal, Chevy, Dodge, Ford, Toyota, Tesla, any of them. When you tap the brake pedal, the Cruise Control disengages. On all 737’s, when you jerk on the Yoke (kinda like a steering wheel on… Read more »

Shapes

The assertion by the writer that the Max will fly again as there is too much money invested, seems like a PR stunt paid for by Boeing and carries with it the complete arrogance we have seen from Boeing itself since the crashes.
No more rubber stamps for Boeing.
Tell us simple flying what evidence do you have that the max will be re certified? There is a very large concentious of people who don’t think it will be.
Are you in league with Boeing on this one?
Not sure I can trust Simple flying, a very poor PR stunt.

Alexandros RALLIS

What I understand is that they try to persuade us that by “COPYING ” and “PASTE” a new Software everything will be o.k to 737-Max-8. IN OTHER WORDS without the USB of my assistant, the PLANE CANNOT FLIGHT normally !!!!!!!!!

The whole mess started hen BOEING absorbed MD and moved its headquarters from SEATTLE to CHICAGO … to be closer to the …..”CIRCLES of POWER”

THEREFORE once BOEING will be in a position to be reliable again, THEN and ONLY THEN I fly with its aircrrafs