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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.