Pilots start some new Boeing planes by turning a knob and flipping two switches.
The Boeing 737 Max, the newest passenger jet on the market, works differently. Pilots follow roughly the same seven steps used on the first 737 nearly 52 years ago: Shut off the cabin’s air-conditioning, redirect the air flow, switch on the engine, start the flow of fuel, revert the air flow, turn back on the air conditioning, and turn on a generator.
The 737 Max is a legacy of its past, built on decades-old systems, many that date back to the original version. The strategy, to keep updating the plane rather than starting from scratch, offered competitive advantages. Pilots were comfortable flying it, while airlines didn’t have to invest in costly new training for their pilots and mechanics. For Boeing, it was also faster and cheaper to redesign and recertify than starting anew.
But the strategy has now left the company in crisis, following two deadly crashes in less than five months. It is the only modern Boeing jet without an electronic alert system that explains what is malfunctioning and how to resolve it.
Read the full story, "Boeing's 737 Max: 1960s design, 1990s computing power and paper manuals," at nytimes.com.