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Why the 737 Max should never fly again

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The Paris Air Show next week is the most important sales event of the year for the world's aircraft makers. But the talk won't be dominated, as usual, by who's selling the most planes.

Industry officials gathered in Paris will instead speculate on wrenching changes to global aviation made necessary by Boeing Co.'s ill-conceived 737 Max, and the questionable decisions of regulators and airlines in believing it was safe to fly.

The global fleet of 737 Max, numbering 393 aircraft, has been grounded since March, after the second of two fatal crashes, in March, of the new aircraft within two years of its first entering commercial service.

The two crashes claimed the lives of all aboard each aircraft – a total of 346 fatalities, including 18 Canadians.

One crash of a new flagship airliner in commercial service is rare. Two crashes are unimaginable.

Boeing and its chief regulator, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, are under investigation on Capitol Hill. U.S. legislators want to know why Boeing built a faulty plane, and why the FAA certified the 737 Max as safe to fly.

Boeing denies allegations of improper conduct, and says its culture of safety is among the best in the world. And "when the Max returns to the skies," Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenberg said in April, it will be "as safe as any airplane ever to fly."

But the accident investigations – at the crash sites, in legislative testimony, and at the 737 Max assembly plant near Seattle – have revealed grievous faults in global aviation.

What the faults amount to is that the global industry and the passengers it serves have become overly reliant on the duopoly of Boeing and Airbus SE in the supply of large commercial airliners; on an industry-friendly regulator (FAA); and on one aircraft type, the aging 737 family, of which the Max is the fourth generation.

To see why that is so requires a brief review of events.

In 2011, Boeing chose to modify a then 44-year-old 737 over the costlier and more time-consuming option of designing a new "clean-sheet" aircraft from scratch.

"We all rolled our eyes, the idea that 'Here we go, the 737 again," Rick Ludtke, a former Boeing engineer who worked on the 737 Max's cockpit design, told the New York Times in April.

"Nobody was quite........

© Peterborough Examiner