Sleepless in Seattle

Two Boeing 737 MAX crashes within five months, both involving newly delivered aircraft, claimed the lives of 346 people and threw the world’s then-biggest aircraft manufacturer into turmoil. Airliner World’s Martin Needham charts the path that led to Boeing’s annus horribilis and considers how the grounding has affected the wider aviation industry.

The third Boeing 737 MAX 8 built, N8703J (c/n 42556), seen during its time as a test airframe. It is due to be delivered to Southwest Airlines once the type has been recertificated. AIRTEAMIMAGES.COM/JOHN KILMER

Four hundred aircraft in storage. Anticipated costs in excess of $18bn. Mounting lawsuits and ongoing negotiations with airlines regarding compensation. The Boeing 737 MAX grounding is a crisis the likes of which the aviation industry has never seen – affecting not only the manufacturer and its supply chain, but airlines, lessors and even competitors. So how did one of the most respected names in aviation find itself trying to recertificate an aircraft that its own employees have reportedly described as being “designed by clowns who in turn are supervised by monkeys”?

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