Big turbulence in sight not only for Boeing stock, but also for the aircraft manufacturer, and its thousands of B737s in service around the world. The crash of China Eastern flight MU5735 on Monday March 21, 2022 should raise questions about the safety of the latest versions of this aircraft, one of the best-selling in the world.
All that is known is that the Boeing 737 that crashed just before landing near Wuhzou, southern China, with 132 people on board, was not a Boeing 737 Max , of the generation of aircraft equipped with the MCAS system, responsible for the crash of two aircraft in 2018 and 2019, in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
Flight MU5735 was operated by a Boeing 737-800 NG, (NG for new generation), which is not equipped with MCAS, whose function is precisely to simulate the behavior of a 737-800 for the pilots, who are accustomed to and trained in its reactions to certain angle and thrust situations.
Has the Boeing 737 had its day?
The question posed by this succession of B737 crashes is simple: the aircraft, designed in the 1960s, which gave birth to numerous versions, all derived however from the same original overall plan, did not it not had its day? Other aircraft, both at Airbus and at Boeing for that matter, were designed from scratch, which is not the case with the Boeing 737-800, nor its direct derivative, the Boeing 737 Max.
However, it appears that this choice, which has been repeated several times over the past twenty years, has mainly been guided by economic reasons: by developing the same version of an aircraft as little as possible, the aircraft manufacturer simplifies its certification process, but also allows airlines to place their pilots certified for the 737 on any version of the aircraft, with virtually no additional training.
Boeing manufacturing conditions questioned
Since the crashes of the two B737 Max, and the withdrawal of their certifications for two years, the rules have however changed, and the aeronautical authorities of most countries have reinforced their approval process. Crew training requirements, particularly on a simulator, have also been increased.
Nevertheless: the drama of flight MU 5735 will once again draw attention to Boeing, its different versions of the 737, but also to other aircraft such as the Dreamliner 787. The manufacturing conditions of the aircraft, much criticized during the investigation of the 737 Max, cast doubt on the reliability of American aircraft over time, in particular due to the discovery of many foreign bodies in the technical spaces of the devices. Ranging from the discovery of small metal shavings of one millimeter, however likely to cause short circuits due to friction on electrical wiring, to the presence of a… ladder in a landing gear, during the flight test of a B737 MAX.