Boeing 737 Maxs have not had the best reputation over the past few years, culminating with the recent Alaska Airlines mid-flight blow-out of a plug-in door. While the 737 Max 9s continue being grounded, pending investigation, in the US, some good news for the plane manufacturer comes from China, which is lifting its embargo after almost 5 years.
China grounded all 737 Maxs in March 2019, following two deadly accidents, taking place within months of each other, which were found to be caused by faults of the planes. Besides grounding the aircraft, China also banned the import of the models, which some say was also due to shaky economic ties with the US.
Now, almost 5 years later, a Boeing 737 Max 9 is being delivered to China Eastern Airlines. The plane was reportedly built in 2019 and has been staying Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, until it departed for Honolulu at 11:25 am local time on 24 January. It left Honolulu the following day, stopping first in Saipan, before making the final leg of the journey to China.
Models from the 737 Max family have been involved in several accidents over the past few years. In 2019, all Boeing 737 Max aircraft were grounded for one and a half years after two crashes occurred within 6 months of each other, a Lion Air flight in Indonesia and an Ethiopian Airlines flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi, killing 189 and 157 people respectively. Investigations revealed that both were caused by faulty aircraft. These made way for Airbus to supply 3 times more planes during the pandemic than Boeing.
While neither one of the two manufacturers could meet global demand by itself, Boeing needing to go back to the drawing board and reevaluating the safety of its aircraft makes way for Airbus to take the lead. In early 2022, the European manufacturer announced plans to increase jet production by 50% in the following 3 years, received a record number of orders in 2023 and reached record share values at the beginning of 2024. All the while, Boeing’s production still lags behind.
In the most recent demonstration of the high quality of Airbus aircraft, the advanced burn-through resistant materials used for the A350 are considered to have kept the fire contained enough in Japan Airlines’ recent crash with a Coast Guard aircraft in Tokyo, allowing all passengers and crew to safely evacuate the plane.