How Will Boeing Deliver All Its 737 MAX Aircraft When Ban Is Lifted?


Boeing’s list of problems is not short. They have to fix engine problems with their 777X program, ease out production woes from their 787 lines and of course, get their flagship Boeing 737 MAX back in the sky.

Boeing 737 MAX Grounding 2020
Boeing has not stopped building these aircraft but cannot deliver them. Photo: Boeing

But one issue that has only been lightly touched on is the fact that once the Boeing 737 MAX is given the all-clear… how will Boeing deliver all of the aircraft to their customers as quickly as possible?

How are aircraft normally delivered?

Before we start to hypothesize about possible ways Boeing will deliver all these aircraft, we should highlight how these aircraft are normally delivered.

When an aircraft is completed at the factory and given the green light to be delivered, a pilot team from the airline will come to the aircraft, pick up the keys (and make sure there are no scuff marks on the wheels) and fly it back to their home base. Generally, these pilots are very senior in the airline organization and might be their most experienced team.

The aircraft itself might take a rather awkward journey to its new home. For long-haul aircraft, they fly almost straight to the destination hub but for short-haul aircraft, they might have to go the long way round.

What is the problem?

The problem is that Boeing hasn’t actually stopped building the 737 MAX and ‘fulfilling’ airlines orders. As the aircraft is currently banned from flying anywhere in the world, they actually now have a backlog of aircraft sitting at their Washington plant that they can’t deliver. This has been going on for six months so far.

The many 737 MAX aircraft currently parked in a carpark. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

The problem has gotten so bad that Boeing has commandeered its own employees’ carpark to park the aircraft.

Thus Boeing needs to start delivering these aircraft as soon as they can. Here is the current order backlog:

737 Max
737 MAX deliveries as of Feb 2019 before the grounding. Photo: Wikimedia 

What is the solution for Boeing?

Apart from a silly solution like shipping the aircraft on the back of trucks or boats to their clients (who would not be able to fly them anyway) Boeing will have to wait for the FAA and other international aviation organizations to give the aircraft the stamp of approval to fly again.

Boeing 737 MAX grounding 2020
The Boeing 737 MAX has now been grounded for six months. Photo: Boeing

Once they have that approval, they will have to rapidly invite airlines to come and pick up the aircraft. They will need to likely place more staff on final inspections and also do more test flights with each aircraft to ensure that they are up to quality (after all, some of them have been sitting out in the rainy North-Western weather for six months) before they can be handed over.

But once these little nuggets are ironed out, it is possible that Boeing will rapidly deliver these late planes to customers in record time.

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.