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Boeing 737 MAX crisis could have ‘huge consequences for future of flying’

A now-grounded Boeing 737 MAX jet. (AP)

With Boeing’s 737 MAX jets still grounded worldwide, it’s had many in the aviation industry wondering if this controversy could have wide-ranging effects on the future of flying as we know it.

This all started with an automated system in Boeing’s 737 MAX line, that in certain situations, was designed to push the nose of an airplane down. That ultimately led the death of 189 people in a Lion Air crash out of Indonesia, and 157 more deaths in an Ethiopian Airlines crash.

“It really has caused people to stop and reflect on a lot of different things,” Air Current Editor-in-Chief Jon Ostrower told KIRO Radio’s Candy, Mike and Todd Show. “You know, the pace of growth in the world; the way airplanes are designed; the way pilots and airplanes interact together; the way Boeing went about designing the MAX in the first place; and the pressures that led to what would now seemed to be an egregious oversight.”

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The debate now rages over the role of automation in air travel. Nowadays, a second officer on a long haul flight is barely doing any actual flying.

That in turn has led to concerns that automated flight systems lead to scores of pilots who aren’t accustomed to the rigors of operating an airplane beyond takeoff and landing.

“… there is actually a significant degradation in their flying skills because, effectively, the modern nature of automation, and in how modern aircraft have evolved,” Ostrower noted, referring to a conversation he had where Australian pilots voiced these concerns.

Before grounding the entire 737 MAX fleet, Boeing had over 300 of the jets in service across the globe. In the days ahead, some expect to see them restored to service as late as March 2020.

In the meantime, discussions on everything from pilot training to airplane assembly line are likely to ensue, as the aviation industry looks to avoid a crisis like this in the future.

“This is … a time of important, really huge consequences for the future of flying,” said Ostrower.

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