Why weren't 737-200s (and other variants):

  1. grounded immediately after UA 585 crashed, out of precaution and risk avoidance? The crash's cause was unknown then.

  2. remained grounded in 1992, after the NTSB

was unable to conclusively identify the cause of the crash[?]

It feels foolhardy to allow an airplane to be airborne, when it still suffers from an unknown fatal flaw.


closed as primarily opinion-based by Pondlife, Sean, jwenting, Terry, Sanchises Mar 13 at 8:03

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.


If the cause of the accident can't be established, it can't be established it's due to a flaw in the aircraft itself, let alone a flaw in the aircraft design that affects the entire fleet.

For example there was an accident involving an aircraft where a careless maintenance worker had installed the wrong screws to refit a cockpit window. In your scenario the entire fleet would have been grounded instantly after the accident, pending investigation.In this case they found the cause of the accident after a few weeks, but in other cases it could take months or years and ruin not just every single operator of the type but the manufacturer as well.

Think MH370 for example. That one went down several years ago now and no wreckage was ever found to investigate. In your world that'd mean that every single Boeing 777 the world over would have been grounded now for several years and probably will never be allowed to fly again because it's extremely unlikely they'll ever find the wreckage, let alone in a state that will allow the determination of the cause of the crash.

In the years since, there's been 1 other crash of a Boeing 777, and that one due to external forces (a missile fired at it by the Russian army) completely unrelated to the aircraft itself.

Now, if there'd been a number of unexplained accidents due to mysterious causes in short order across operators of the same type, it's quite possible that operators, manufacturers, and regulators would step in and decide to suspend operations of that type pending investigation. But a single accident? No.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I think this answers 1, thanks, but does it answer 2? $\endgroup$ – Greek - Area 51 Proposal Mar 13 at 23:15
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Greek-Area51Proposal same principle applies. If you can't figure out what caused an accident, don't just blame the aircraft. They might as well shut down the airline completely instead, blaming them. Or the flight school that trained the pilots of that aircraft, because they must have taught them wrong. Etc. etc. $\endgroup$ – jwenting Mar 14 at 4:42
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @jwenting add in that neither of the two causes posited by the NTSB (rudder malfunction or adverse weather event) necessarily indicates a "fatal design flaw" $\endgroup$ – motosubatsu Mar 14 at 14:31

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.