Alaska Airlines Moves First Boeing 737 MAX Flight To April

Despite not yet having received its first Boeing 737 MAX 9, the Seattle-Tacoma headquartered Alaska Airlines has moved the aircraft’s first flight to April of 2020.

Although the airline has somewhat dodged a bullet, having no Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in its fleet as yet, Alaska Airways is still dealing with a lower capacity than it had planned to have by this time.

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Alaska Airlines has not taken delivery of their first Boeing 737 MAX 9 yet. Photo: Jeff Hitchcock Wikimedia Commons

By now anyone who flies knows the reason why the MAX was grounded, but what we don’t know is when it will be back in service.

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There is no fixed timeline for the MAX to re-enter service

Currently, there is no fixed timeline as to when the aircraft will be operational again, yet airlines who have the Boeing 737 MAX in their fleet keep publishing schedules for its return to service.

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For its, part Boeing has said that it has made the necessary changes to the software in the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) and that it has submitted them to the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) for review.

The FAA, however, is feeling the pressure from Boeing and the airlines that have the MAX in their fleets to speed up the recertification process. After being criticized for rushing the aircraft certification in the first place, the FAA must now ensure that the plane is 100% safe before allowing it to fly again.

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Boeing said the plane would be back in service before the end of the year

Previously Boeing was touting that the troubled aircraft would be back in service by now, yet as we know the date for a return keeps getting pushed back and would now appear to be April at the earliest.

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We do not know when the Boeing 737 MAX will re-enter service. Photo: SounderBruce Wikimedia Commons

In a move, perhaps designed to show the public that Boeing was 100% committed to safety rather than just the company’s share price, the board of directors finally removed CEO Dennis Muilenburg on December 23rd, 2019.

The recertification process can take longer than April

Before the Boeing 737 MAX can fly again, it is not just the FAA who must give the green light but aviation agencies from around the world.

Normally they would just take the FAA’s lead, but given the failure by the American safety agency to not pick up on the MCAS issue, they now want to do their own series of tests.

The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said on September 5th, 2019 that they would be conducting their own series of tests before the MAX can resume commercial flights within Europe.

Imagine the FAA says the Boeing 737 MAX is safe to fly and the EASA says they are not yet satisfied with the fix? In reality, the aircraft would be allowed to fly in American airspace but nowhere else.

As for Alaska Airlines, the 5th biggest airline in the United States by fleet size, their inaugural Boeing 737 MAX 9 flight is now scheduled for the 21st of April 2020 instead of the previously published 19th of March, 2020.

The latest adjustments to the Boeing 737 MAX 9 schedule are as follows:

  • Seattle-Las Vegas one flight per day until May 2020.
  • Portland-Los Angeles one flight per day starting June 18th, 2020.
  • Seattle-Las Vegas-Portland-Seattle once daily until May 20th, 2020.
  • Seattle-Los Angeles once daily and then twice daily starting the 21st of May, 2020.
  • Seattle – Phoenix once a day until June 17th, 2020.
  • Seattle – San Diego once a day.

It would appear as if Alaska Airlines is going to keep its new Boeing 737 MAX on the West Coast of the United States near to its home in Seattle, Washington, before branching out.

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The 737 MAX will replace older Alaska Airlines 737s. Photo: BriYYZ via Flickr

Alaska Airlines appear committed to the Boeing 737 MAX and will look to retire some of its older 737s as the MAX enters service.

Will Alaska Airlines and others have to alter their MAX schedules again? What do you think? Please let us know in the comments.

The schedule information in this article was originally published by Routes Online.

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Niklas Andersson

I don’t get it, how Alaska Airlines make a such statement, meanwhile, no certification are granted…? Many Airliners are bringing the same kind of statement, could someone explain us what kind of commitment and target are these Airliners towards the customers?
Customers in USA, Ireland, Norway and India stated recently, few will travel with 737-Max.
How airliners and Boeing will manage this issues??? Outsmart them ?
Greetings from Sweden

Richard johnson

American did the same thing last year and sold tickets but when the max didn’t get recertified they quickly put back the 737-800 that the max is supposed to replace. I actually bought a ticket from Miami to Medellin on the max and it got changed back to 737-800.

TonytTDK

The plane has been grounded for nearly 10 months. That’s plenty of time for a hell of a lot of real engineering work to have been done.? I wonder if Boing have actually done any.? The bottom-line seems to be that since both EASA AND importantly CAAC, who’re overseeing the biggest fleet of delivered MAX’s have said they want to fully evaluate the MAX themselves, the FAA is doing all the legwork, but until both EASA & CAAC sign-off, it’s unlikely that the FAA will sign-off either. If they do & then either of the other two ‘fail’ the MAX… Read more »

Anonymous

Exactly- every worldwide regulatory agency will be together on this 100% because there will never be one agency who approves in case it goes down again

Gerry S

FAA will certify MAX when it is ready. They will not wait for other agencies. Boeing can not get rid of MCAS on MAX. It is absolutely essential for this a/c. They will sort it out and move on.

Ron

OK. So when the FAA finally – reluctantly! – and against Boeing’s wishes – grounded the MAX – Boeing was all – pfft! It’s nothing! No biggie! It’ll be back in service in a month. Make that two. Maybe three… etc Now it looks like it’s gonna be around twelve months at least before it’s back in the air and in commercial service. So this tiny little problem that only needed the merest of tweaks – how’s that working out for them? I mean – that narrative can’t be correct – right? If the fix was minor and easily fixed… Read more »

David

Alaska is simply trying to plan their spring schedule. They aren’t making a statement but, they are assuming that the Max will be signed off by then. If it’s not signed off they will have to rearrange the aircraft routing and possibly cancel a few flights.

This is what most of the airlines have been doing since the plane was grounded.

TonytTDK

Ron, That about sums it up.! I’ve read here & on other sites, that there have been a number of other ‘niggles’ which have come up during the intense scruitiny of the various certifying organisations around the World, following the grounding. I imagine that it’s these ‘niggles’ that are bulking-out the work the FAA is asking Boeing to complete.? Additionally, & this was what I was alluding to in my earlier post about ‘engineering work’, the MAX10 has the stretchy main undercarriage. It doesn’t seem to me to be beyond the wit of man, to look at that system to… Read more »