American Airlines To Relocate Two Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft To Oklahoma

American Airlines has followed in the footsteps of other airlines with the 737 MAX problem and decided to relocate two of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. These two will be heading to its maintenance facility in Oklahoma, to prepare the aircraft for a return to service.

American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8
All Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft remain grounded. Photo: Boeing.

These aircraft have been in storage in Roswell, New Mexico, where the desert and lack of humidity has helped protect the important electronic components

What are the details?

American Airlines wants its long grounded fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft ready to take to the skies and rejoin their network as soon as they have the green light from the FAA.

However, in order to do that they will need to ensure that these aircraft, many of which have been turned off and shut away for months, are actually passenger ready. Thus, American Airlines has started to ferry these aircraft from their holding base in Roswell, New Mexico, to their maintenance facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Why Tulsa? It is America Airlines’ biggest maintenance base, with over 5,000 employees ready to bring any of American’s fleet back online. The facility also has additional technologies that are not available in Roswell.

Of American Airlines’ entire 737 MAX fleet, they now have 16 aircraft undergoing checks in Tulsa, and eight more are being prepared to fly north from New Mexico.

“We can confirm that we’ll be flying two of our 737 MAX aircraft to our base in Tulsa later this week to perform maintenance and checks on the aircraft. Eventually, before they return to [the] scheduled service, we will move all of our MAX aircraft to Tulsa.” – American Airlines spokesperson to Simple Flying.

How did they fly the aircraft up there?

Like we saw with Silk Air last week, it is likely that American employed special pilots to fly these aircraft up to Oklahoma. They would have been trained in how to spot and prevent MCAS from acting on the aircraft (which is believed to be done by deploying flaps and flying low). These aircraft would have carried no one but the special pilots and likely a representative expert form Boeing

American Airlines To Relocate Two Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft To Oklahoma
The ferry flight route from Rosewell to Tulsa. Photo: GC MAPS

Not only that, it is likely they got special permission from the FAA for these ferry flights, asking them to charter a course away from cities and across the sparse farmland in that part of the country.

Plus, American Airlines uses the ferry flight “to see how they’re flying after being in the desert.

737 MAX Software
The MCAS system trims the Boeing 737 MAX down if a stall is detected. Photo: American Airlines

When will the American Airlines 737 MAX’s return to service?

There is still no word yet from Boeing or the FAA as to when the fix will be released to airlines, and when AA will be allowed to fly their 24 MAX aircraft. However, American Airlines is guessing that it will be sooner rather than later, judging by their efforts to get these aircraft ready to go.

American Airlines remains confident that impending software updates to the Boeing 737 MAX, along with the new training elements Boeing is developing in coordination with our union partners, will lead to recertification of the aircraft this year. We are in continuous contact with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Transportation (DOT), National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and other regulatory authorities.”American Airlines Statement on September 1st. 

However, if you look at the American Airlines schedule, there are no MAX flights before December 3rd, 2019. It will take a few months for the aircraft to be ready, as they must be tested extensively after sitting on the ground for so long.

“I think there is some concern about taking them out of storage. They haven’t been flying for five or six months,” said John DeLeeuw, Allied Pilots Association Safety Chair to Biz Journals. 

Fellow MAX airline, Southwest, has been more cautious. They have listed the date of March 2020 as the earliest that their 34 Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft will be flying again.

Are you excited for the return of the 737 MAX? Will you fly on the aircraft? Let us know in the comments.