After two horrific crashes, the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX means that no airlines are allowed to operate passenger flights with the aircraft. Boeing identified and worked on a fix for the aircraft, and the review process continues. However, the timeline for reentry into service continues to get pushed, and it seems it could be towards the end of 2019 before the 737 MAX flies again.
A new flaw
Boeing was initially optimistic that the 737 MAX groundings would end soon. In fact, it is reported that some airlines were told the 737 MAX would fly as soon as July. However, more recently, during aircraft testing, it appears that Boeing also has to fix a new problem, as issues were identified with the runaway stabilizer procedure.
CNN reports that Boeing will not be submitting new software for testing until September. From then, the aircraft will have to undergo scrutiny by the FAA. Even after that, it’s likely that several other agencies will want to take a thorough look at the aircraft before it can return to service.
Reentry into service
It seems that, every so often, airlines readjust their flight schedules and extend their cancellations of Boeing 737 MAX flights. Southwest, United, and American Airlines all operate the 737 MAX in the United States. They don’t expect to see the aircraft in the sky until at least September, if not October.
Even if the plane is recertified by agencies, there has to be a worldwide lifting of the 737 MAX ban simultaneously for the reentry into service to be successful. Unfortunately for Boeing, that could take a fair bit longer than just getting the FAA on board.
Even when the plane is recertified, airlines will also have to contend with passengers who may be wary of stepping onboard a 737 MAX. Some airlines may choose to suspend additional 737 MAX flights until they can regain public confidence in the plane.
Could there be 737 MAX flights in 2019?
Most definitely the MAX will fly this year, even if just flying routes for storage and repositioning purposes. In addition, the aircraft will also fly for testing purposes.
When it comes to passengers, on the other hand, this partially depends on the airlines. In an attempt to regain public confidence, there may be non-revenue flights carrying only special guests on the 737 MAX as a display of confidence in the aircraft.
Furthermore, airlines will face a delay between when the aircraft is recertified and when it returns to service. This is because airlines will need time to reposition the 737 MAX and conduct the necessary procedures for returning the grounded aircraft into service.
Should Boeing submit a fix by September, it will likely take a couple of months for FAA and global regulatory agencies to recertify (or fail to recertify) the plane. From then, it depends on the needs of these agencies to ensure safety and confidence in the 737 MAX. For now, airlines and passengers will play a waiting game until the software fix gets the green light.
When do you think the 737 MAX will fly again? Let us know in the comments!