In the wake of last October’s fatal Lion Air crash in which a Boeing 737 MAX 8 plane suddenly plummeted into the Java Sea and killed all 189 people on board, there has been intense scrutiny over the popular aircraft model involved in the crash.
Officials have made significant headway in the investigation of the ill-fated plane. They’ve identified that erroneous data from the jet’s airspeed indicators and a sensor that reports the angle of the plane’s nose might have set off an automatic stall-prevention system that Boeing didn’t tell any pilots or airlines about.
After those discoveries, both Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration sent out safety bulletins to carriers who operate the MAX 8, indicating that airlines should add information about the anti-stall system to their operation manuals for the plane.
The 737 MAX generation of aircraft is an updated version of Boeing’s workhorse 737 twin-engine plane that has been in operation for decades. The 737 has sold more than any other jetliner in its 50-year career, but the MAX models have very little in common with the original 737s.
MAX planes are more fuel-efficient than older 737s, largely thanks to new engines, and began carrying passengers in 2017. The model comes in four different variants: -7, -8, -9 and -10, from the smallest to the largest (the -7 and -10 haven’t been delivered to airlines yet).
The MAX variants of the 737 are Boeing’s fastest-selling generation of airplanes ever. The company has inked more than 4,700 orders for the variant of the single-aisle jet for more than 100 carriers worldwide. But only 241 of those planes have been actually delivered to airlines.
The MAX 8 was the first variant to be developed and to fly passengers. The plane mostly handles short-haul flights, but it has a maximum range of about 3,825 nautical miles — enough for trans-Atlantic flights from the East Coast of the US and Canada to Western Europe.
American Airlines also reiterated that its MAX 8s were safe to fly passengers.
This article was first published on the aviation website The Points Guy