Boeing's ongoing 737 MAX crisis

By Reuters   January 6, 2024 | 04:49 pm PT
The latest black eye for Boeing's top-selling 737 MAX aircraft occurred Friday when a cabin panel blowout forced an Alaska Airlines flight to make an emergency landing.
An Ethiopian Airlines Boeing737Max8 plane to take off on a demonstration trip to resume flights from the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Feb. 1, 2022. Photo by Reuters

An Ethiopian Airlines' Boeing737Max8 plane to take off on a demonstration trip to resume flights from the Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia Feb. 1, 2022. Photo by Reuters

U.S. regulators ordered a temporary grounding of certain planes for safety checks. That's not as severe a move as the grounding of all MAX-family jets worldwide nearly five years ago following a pair of fatal crashes.

Here is a timeline of recent issues surrounding Boeing's MAX planes:

Oct. 2018: A Lion Air MAX plane crashes in Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board.

Nov. 2018: The FAA and Boeing say they are evaluating the need for software or design changes to 737 MAX jets following the Lion Air crash.

Mar. 2019: An Ethiopian Airlines MAX crashes, killing all 157 people on board. China's aviation regulator becomes the first in the world to ground the MAX, followed by others including the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration.

Apr. 2019: The FAA forms an international team to review the safety of the 737 MAX. Boeing cuts monthly production by nearly 20%.

July 2019: Boeing posts its largest-ever quarterly loss.

Sep. 2019: Boeing's board of directors creates a permanent safety committee to oversee development, manufacturing and operation of its aircraft.

Oct. 2019: Boeing fires Kevin McAllister, the top executive of its commercial airplanes division.

Dec. 2020: The company fires CEO Dennis Muilenburg in the wake of the twin crashes.

Jan. 2020: Boeing suspends 737 production, its biggest assembly-line halt in more than 20 years.

May 2020: Boeing resumes 737 MAX production at a "low rate."

June 2020: Boeing begins a series of long-delayed flight tests of its redesigned 737 MAX with regulators at the controls.

Sep. 2020: An 18-month investigation by a U.S. House of Representatives panel finds Boeing failed in its design and development of the MAX as well as its transparency with the FAA, and that the FAA failed in oversight and certification.

Nov. 2020: The U.S. FAA lifts the grounding order, allowing the 737 MAX to fly again.

Dec. 2020: Congress passes legislation to reform how the FAA certifies new airplanes, including requiring manufacturers to disclose certain safety-critical information to the FAA.

Jan. 2021: The European Union Aviation Safety Agency approves the MAX's return to service in Europe.

Mar. 2021: China's aviation regulator says major safety concerns with the MAX needed to be "properly addressed" before conducting flight tests.

Apr. 2021: Boeing halts 737 MAX deliveries after electrical problems re-ground part of the fleet.

Nov. 2021: Current and former Boeing company directors reach a $237.5 million settlement with shareholders to settle lawsuits over safety oversight of the 737 MAX.

Oct. 2022: The FAA tells Boeing that some key documents submitted as part of the certification review of the 737 MAX 7 are incomplete and others need a reassessment.

Dec. 2022: Congress agrees to extend a deadline for new standards for modern cockpit alerts stemming from the 2020 legislation after intense lobbying from Boeing.

Apr. 2023: Boeing pauses deliveries of some 737 MAXs to deal with a new supplier quality problem involving noncompliant fittings.

July 2023: Boeing's first delivery of the 737 MAX 7 is delayed to 2024.

Aug. 2023: Boeing identifies a new 737 MAX supplier quality problem involving improperly drilled holes on the aft pressure bulkhead.

Sep. 2023: Boeing 737 MAX deliveries fall to their lowest levels since August 2021.

Dec. 2023: Boeing makes its first direct delivery of a 787 Dreamliner to China since 2019, seen as a precursor to China potentially unfreezing deliveries of the 737 MAX.

Jan. 2024: An Alaskan Air flight is forced to conduct an emergency landing after a cabin panel blowout on a brand-new 737 MAX 9 plane. The U.S. FAA grounds certain 737 MAX 9 aircraft for safety checks.

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