On Thursday, two American Airlines Boeing 737 MAXs made the journey from the storage facility at Roswell International Air Center to the airline’s maintenance facilities in Tulsa. While the aircraft’s recertification does not seem to be imminent, the airline has previously stated it would move all of its 24 MAXs to Tulsa ahead of their return to service.
Two MAXs at once
While the exact date for the 737 MAX’s return to service remains a thing of mystery, now and then, you can see the beleaguered model grace the sky with its presence. Earlier today, you could even see two in quick succession, if you glanced up at the right time.
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American Airlines flew two of its Boeing 737 MAXs from the Roswell International Air Center (ROW) in New Mexico, to its maintenance base in Tulsa (TUL), Oklahoma. Flight AA9794 and AA9793 took off from ROW at 08:46 and 08:48, respectively.
They then flew northeast over Amarillo, turned eastwards to pass over Oklahoma City, before veering slightly north again to land in Tulsa. AA9794, operated by N328RR, landed at 11:16. AA9793, which was operated by N326RP, for some reason took a slightly wider path towards its final destination and touched down at 11:23.
When contacted for a comment on the flights, American stated that the carrier stores several MAXs at both Roswell and Tulsa. As Tulsa is American’s largest maintenance base, aircraft “regularly rotate” through there for scheduled maintenance.
No mention was made as to whether or not the aircraft in question were being prepared for a potential return to service. Although, according to American’s previous statements, it still expects that event to be a few months away.
Special MAX protocol
Now, to take a grounded aircraft for a spin is not done just like that. There are several regulations to be followed for anyone wanting to get the MAX airborne, even if it is only a short flight for maintenance purposes. The pilots have to have undergone specialized training on several issues, including the lethally flawed MCAS software. No passengers can be on board, and the crew is kept to a bare minimum.
The Roswell International Air Center has space to store up to 300 jets at any given moment. As we know, jet parking space has been a highly sought after commodity of late. Several other aircraft models have joined grounded MAXs as a result of the ongoing crisis. When the plane was first grounded in 2019, American ferried 10 of its 737 MAX to the facility and the remaining 14 to Tulsa.
Thursday was not the first time a duo of MAXs made the journey. In October 2019, the airline also moved two of the planes to the maintenance facility. At the time, the carrier stated that it would soon move all of its MAXs to Tulsa to prepare them for a return to service.