The Boeing 737 MAX Could Remain Grounded Until February

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The Boeing 737 MAX recertification could last into mid-February according to the latest information received by the Seattle Times. The publication quoted unidentified people close to the issue for the news.

Boeing 737 MAX, Recertification, February
The Boeing 737 MAX’s recertification could drag to mid-February. Photo: Boeing

The Boeing 737 MAX has been arguably the biggest aviation story of 2019. However, it looks set to continue into 2020. On Wednesday the FAA’s administrator, Steve Dickson, told how the aircraft would not be recertified by the end of the year. However, in positive news, the aircraft received its first firm orders of 2019 last month. The aircraft was grounded globally on the 13th of March, meaning 9 months have elapsed so far.

11-month grounding

If the rumours from the Seattle Times are to be believed, the Boeing 737 MAX is on course for a total grounding or around 11-months. Typically, the Seattle Times is a reputable source, and as such, while unconfirmed, they are unlikely to report the story without sufficient cause to be true.

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However, if the current “target” is mid-February, this could mean that any further slip will mean the aircraft is grounded for roughly a year. Indeed, having been grounded for nine months so far, the aircraft is already three-quarters of the way to having been grounded for a year.

Boeing 737 MAX, Recertification, February
The MAX has already been grounded for 9 months. Photo: Boeing

When will airlines fly the aircraft again?

As things stand, it looks like airlines across the globe are planning for the aircraft to remain out of service until at least March. However, American Airlines is the first airline to state it expects the aircraft to be out of passenger service until April.

American Airlines yesterday stated that it didn’t expect to operate passenger services with the aircraft until the 7th of April at the earliest. The airline stated: “Once the aircraft is certified, American will run flights for American team members and invited guests only prior to April 7.”

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Three US airlines currently have 737 MAX aircraft. These are American Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and United Airlines. Typically when one of the carriers announces a delay with the aircraft’s reintroduction, the other two quickly follow suit. As such, it wouldn’t be unexpected if Southwest and United issue similar statements later today.

Boeing 737 MAX, Recertification, February
American Airlines won’t fly the MAX before April 7th. Photo: American Airlines.

It is likely that these three airlines will be the first to get their aircraft back in the skies as they will be certified solely by the FAA. As aircraft in other countries are registered with other aviation authorities, they will likely return to the skies on a country by country basis.

Speaking of the Boeing 737 MAX return to service timeline, a Boeing representative on Wednesday told Simple Flying: “We continue to work closely with the FAA and global regulators towards certification and the safe return to service of the MAX.”

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When do you think the Boeing 737 MAX will be back in the skies? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.

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