Timeline: Key Events in Boeing 737 MAX Safety Checks and Groundings

Summary

  • U.S. authorities enforce a temporary grounding of specific aircraft for safety checks. This incident is not as critical as the grounding of all MAX-family jets globally almost five years ago due to two deadly crashes.
  • A timeline reveals key recent developments involving Boeing’s MAX aircraft, includes crashes, FAA’s examination, production halts, and eventual resumption.

Key Sequence of Events – Boeing’s MAX planes

U.S. regulators have imposed a temporary grounding on certain airplanes for obligatory safety inspections. This measure does not match the gravity of the incident that led to the global grounding of all MAX-family jets close to five years ago in the aftermath of two fatal crashes.

Here’s a chronology of recent issues about Boeing’s MAX airplanes:

Crises and Regulatory Action

In October 2018, a Lion Air MAX plane crashed in Indonesia, leading to the death of all 189 people on board. In the aftermath of the crash, FAA and Boeing began assessing the need for software or design changes to 737 MAX jets. March 2019 marked another tragedy when an Ethiopian Airlines MAX crashed, killing 157 people. Widescale grounding of the MAX by aviation regulators started with China’s aviation regulator. Afterwards, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration grounded the aircraft as well.

Regulatory Review and Production Cuts

In April 2019, the FAA initiated an international team to scrutinize the safety of the 737 MAX, resulting in Boeing reducing its monthly production by nearly 20%. Consequently, in July 2019, Boeing reported its largest-ever quarterly loss. Steps towards safety enhancement led Boeing’s board of directors to establish a permanent safety committee in September 2019 to supervise aircraft development, manufacturing, and operation, among other things.

Top-level Dismissals and Production Suspension

During the period of October 2019 to January 2020, Boeing dismissed its top executive of the commercial airplanes division, Mr. Kevin McAllister, and CEO Dennis Muilenburg. Additionally, it had to suspend 737 production, marking its biggest assembly-line halt in more than two decades.

Resumption of Production and Flight Tests

Boeing resumed 737 MAX production at a “low rate” in May 2020. Additionally, in June 2020, it initiated a series of much-delayed flight tests of its redesigned 737 MAX with regulators at the controls.

New Regulatory Approvals

The 737 MAX got a fresh start in November 2020 when the U.S. FAA lifted the grounding order. Simultaneously, Congress was working on legislations to reform FAA’s methods for certifying new airplanes in December 2020. By January 2021, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency endorsed the MAX’s return to service in Europe.

Recent Developments

The issues vary between incomplete certification documents to the FAA in October 2022 and supplier quality problems in 2023. Boeing’s first 737 MAX 7 delivery has been postponed to 2024, and deliveries have declined since August 2021.

Current Situation

Boeing made its first direct delivery of a 787 Dreamliner to China since 2019 in December 2023, considered to be a precursor to China potentially lifting the freeze on deliveries of the 737 MAX. In contrast, in January 2024, an Alaskan Air flight had to make an emergency landing due to a remotely blown cabin panel on a brand-new 737 MAX 9 plane, compelling the U.S. FAA to ground certain 737 MAX 9s for safety checks.

These events could potentially impact the trading of Boeing’s shares, emphasizing the importance for forex traders to closely monitor developments surrounding aircraft manufacturers.

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