Concerns are rising over the safety of the Boeing 737 MAX in the wake of a series of crash accidents, including the latest one of Ethiopian Airlines.
The production of the model started in November 2015. More than 5,000 units have been or are scheduled to be supplied to over 100 airlines, including 350 units currently in operation. These days, global airlines are placing increasing orders for passenger jets with about 200 seats. The Boeing 737 MAX is one of the models that have benefited from the trend.
The model has been especially popular with low-cost carriers in emerging economies. Boeing supplied 806 planes last year and the 737 MAX accounted for more than 60 percent of the total. Southwest Airlines is currently operating 31 units and 249 units are slated to be delivered additionally. And 16, 14 and 13 are in operation at China Southern Airlines, Air China and China Eastern Airlines, respectively. Vietnam signed a contract for 100 units last month, too.
At present, the possible causes of the accident include autopilot malfunction attributable to misreading of data. Boeing gave pilots advice about the possibility last year.
Among Korean airlines, Eastar Jet is the only one that has been operating the model. Yet the low cost airline announced on March 13 that it has decided to ground two units that have been in operation since late last year. The two jets flied to and from Jeju, Japan, Da Nang, Hanoi and Bangkok.
Korean Air signed a contract for 50 units in 2015 and the first delivery is scheduled for May this year. Jeju Air is planning to introduce 50 units from 2022. They are not going to cancel their contracts until the cause of the accident becomes clear.