Is it over for the Boeing 737 MAX? The embattled aircraft model has been grounded by airlines around the world for close to a year at this point. Several airlines were forced to make last-minute route adjustments after plans to reintroduce the model back into their fleets at the end of 2019 fell through.
Many in the industry are concerned that passengers simply won't feel comfortable flying in the 737 MAX after all of the bad press. Airlines are afraid that uncorrected and undetected mechanical issues could cause more fatal crashes if the planes do return. Southwest is in a particularly difficult situation because the budget carrier has the largest fleet of 737 MAX aircraft in the industry.
The rise and fall of the Boeing 737 MAX is something that industry leaders and business students will be studying for years to come. The 737 MAX is the fastest-selling model in Boeing's history. However, two fatal crashes put a spotlight on serious software issues. It has been setback after setback since then. The fact that safety inspectors discovered new wiring issues in December means that confidence in Boeing's design is lower than ever. Of course, this is coupled with the fact that Congress is now investigating the initial certification process for the 737 MAX.
Is the 737 MAX ever coming back? It will be a while before we know for sure. The official word is that the model will fly again. In fact, regulators from the United States and Europe are meeting with Boeing in Seattle this month to look at Boeing's latest software fixes. It is possible that flight testing with the updated safety features could take place this month. The big question is whether or not airlines will be willing to welcome the 737 MAX with open arms once regulating bodies give the updated aircraft approval.