The Boeing 737 Max aircraft, which stayed grounded for nearly two years after it witnessed two deadly crashes in a span of five months, is getting back to the skies. At least 18 airlines have started operating commercial flights after clearances came in from regulators in the US and Europe, declaring the aircraft safe to fly.
Why was the 737 Max grounded?
In October 2018, the 737 Max — the newest member of Boeing’s 737 narrow-body family — crashed in the Java Sea shortly after takeoff from Jakarta. Later, in March 2019, another aircraft of the same model crashed in Ethiopia. Both these accidents killed a total of 346 people.
Following the second crash, aviation authorities globally decided to ground the plane pending an investigation into the cause behind the crashes. At the time, several airlines including large carriers like United, American, Southwest, Air Canada, in addition to Indian carrier SpiceJet, were operating the 737 Max planes in their fleets.
What happened after the grounding?
During the investigation, it was discovered that the main cause of the accidents was a design flaw in the most modern jetliner. The latest Boeing 737 model is equipped with a manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system (MCAS), which is responsible for pushing the aircraft’s nose down when it senses a high angle of attack that may lead to an aircraft stall.
If an aircraft’s nose is too high, the plane loses speed and is likely to enter a stall — a state in which it loses flight and can fall from the sky like a stone.