When the 737 Max was announced in 2011 and entered service in 2017, the plane was touted as the next generation of a tried-and-tested workhorse of consumer aviation.
The Max, a 737 with new more fuel-efficient engines and updated avionics and cabins, would have longer range, have a lower operating cost, and have enough in common with previous models so that pilots could switch back and forth between the two with ease.
However, two fatal crashes involving the plane within five months of each other, which killed a combined 346 people, have led to questions about the plane’s design and features. The crashes have also called attention to training standards, regulatory oversight, and pilot experience.
Since the second crash in March, 2019, the plane has been grounded around the world as Boeing works to fix what appears to be a fundamental design flaw. On Monday, June 29, 2020, the plane made its first recertification flight, one of the final steps remaining before it can return to service.
From the first designs, to the crashes, the groundings, all the way through today, here is the timeline of the Boeing 737 Max.
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The Boeing 737 first flew in 1967. That model plane, the 737-100, along with a slightly longer version, the -200, were the original generation.
In 1979, Boeing began to develop a major revamp of the 737. Making their debuts in the 1980s and early 90s, the 737-300, -400, and -500 came to be known as the 737 Classic series.
In the early 1990s, Boeing began working on another 737 update. These planes, which entered service in the late 1990s and early 2000s, were known as the 737NG. The “NG” meant “next generation.” Many of these planes are still in service today with orders still being delivered in 2019. The 737NG planes will likely continue to fly for many more years.
The performance of the 737NG meant it was essentially a whole new aircraft family compared to the Classic, but it kept enough important commonality with the Classic that upgrading or operating mixed fleets would be easier and more cost-effective for customers. The airframe received upgrades, the wings were redesigned, and the flight deck and cabin were improved.
Between the originals, the Classics, and the NGs, the 737 has been one of the best-selling commercial jetliners of all time. More than 10,000 have been delivered worldwide.
In 2006, Boeing began to discuss a successor for the 737NG. For a while, as the plane maker mulled the next step, it considered both replacing the 737 with a brand-new airplane, or re-engining the 737NG with more efficient engines, and making other changes for a newer generation.
By summer 2010, Boeing still hadn’t made a decision, and analysts expected that it wouldn’t until the following year.
Then, in December 2010, rival Airbus …read more
Source:: Business Insider – Finance