The 737 MAX is the fastest-selling plane in Boeing history, racking up more than 5,000 orders. When the first jet was delivered, Boeing Commercial Airplanes chief executive Kevin McAllister declared that it “will change the face of the single-aisle market.”
But two fatal crashes of the MAX, with 346 fatalities, have changed the picture and left Boeing facing a crisis. Here is a timeline of the life of Boeing’s 737 MAX jets.
After learning that American Airlines is ready to order 200 new Airbus A320 neo jets, Boeing makes a key decision: It abandons plans for a new small aircraft in favor of a re-engined 737, the MAX.
Aug. 30, 2011
Boeing launches the MAX.
Nov. 3, 2011
Boeing announces design changes, including larger engines, for the 737 MAX. The new aircraft has no firm orders yet, while Airbus’s neo has 918 as of the end of September.
Dec. 14, 2011
Southwest Airlines orders 150 737 MAX aircraft, representing a much-needed win for Boeing and the MAX.
Oct. 3, 2014
Boeing announces plans for an unprecedented production ramp-up of 737s, including the new MAX, at Renton plant.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) managers push the agency’s safety engineers to delegate safety assessments to Boeing itself, and to speedily approve the resulting analysis.
Dec. 8, 2015
Boeing rolls out first 737 MAX in Renton.
Jan. 29, 2016
First flight of a 737 MAX
May 12, 2016
Boeing promises to accelerate delivery of the first 737 MAX by several months, to the first half of 2017. Three months earlier, Airbus delivers the first of its bestselling neo.
March 9, 2017
Boeing announces that FAA has certified the 737 MAX 8.
April 7, 2017
The 737 program marks its 50th year.
May 16, 2017
Boeing delivers the first 737 MAX 8 to Malaysia-based Malindo Air, a subsidiary of Lion Air.
Oct. 29, 2018
A 737 MAX 8 operated by Lion Air crashes after departing Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board.
Nov. 6, 2018
Boeing details what pilots should do if a sensor failure erroneously triggers an automated flight-control system called MCAS that may cause the plane to pitch downward, a scenario suspected in the Lion Air crash. Boeing’s bulletin provides the first description of MCAS, which pilots and airlines had previously been unaware of.
Jan. 31, 2019
Boeing reports 5,011 orders for the MAX from 79 customers.
March 10, 2019
A 737 MAX 8 operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashes, killing all 157 people on board.
March 11, 2019
China and Indonesia ground the MAX, although the cause of the Ethiopian Airlines crash is still unknown. Boeing says by April it will introduce FAA-approved changes to the MAX flight-control system, in reaction to Lion Air crash.
March 12, 2019
Regulators in key markets including Canada, the European Union and India ground the 737 MAX.
March 13, 2019
The FAA grounds the 737 MAX after investigators find indications that MCAS may have been involved in the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
March 17, 2019
Seattle Times details major shortcomings in the FAA’s certification of the 737 MAX flight control system
April 1, 2019
A federal grand jury issues a subpoena in a criminal probe into Boeing’s 737 MAX certification.
April 4, 2019
Preliminary crash report confirms Ethiopian 737 MAX pilots lost control despite following Boeing’s instructions
April 5, 2019
Boeing announces plans to cut MAX production by 20 percent, to 42 aircraft per month.