The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today announced that it was clearing Boeing's 737 Max to fly again. The jets have been grounded for nearly two years due to two crashes that resulted in the deaths of 346 people.
"FAA Administrator Steve Dickson today signed an order (PDF) that paves the way for the Boeing 737 MAX to return to commercial service. Administrator Dickson’s action followed a comprehensive and methodical safety review process (PDF) that took 20 months to complete," read the FAA's statement. The FAA also revealed that Administrator Dickson personally flew the Boeing 737 MAX in order to evaluate the handling of the aircraft firsthand (more in the video below).
Boeing's planes were grounded back in March 2019 after two devastating accidents that happened only five months apart from each other. The first saw an Indonesia Lion Air plunge straight into the Java Sea and the second witnessed an Ethiopian Airlines jet crash into the town of Bishoftu, Ethiopia.
In both cases, all aboard the planes were instantly killed. Investigations into the deadly accidents revealed the fault lay with an anti-stall software that Boeing had engineered to deal with the planes' tendency to tilt nose-up. This software resulted in the planes' noses being repeatedly pushed down, fighting any attempts made by the pilots to regain control of the craft.
However, some experts are now agreeing that 737 Max could be safe to fly again. John Hansman, an aeronautics professor at MIT, told CBS News that he would feel safe in the new aircraft were it not for the COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, he added that the entire ordeal may have made the new models the safest in the world.
"This whole thing has had more scrutiny than any airplane in the world," he said. "It's probably the safest airplane to be on." The crashes' victims' families, however, may not feel the same way.
What do you think? Are Boeing's 737 Max safe to fly again or must they still be grounded?