The Boeing 737 MAX was grounded earlier this month. Since then, a hot question has been “When will the aircraft fly again?” Simple Flying takes a look at the fixes being implemented, in addition to what operators think of the aircraft.
It’s now been 19 days since the Ethiopian Airlines accident which saw 157 lives lost when flight ET302 plummeted to the ground shortly after takeoff. While China was the first to ground the jet, it took the US until March 13th to ground the jet. This action was finally announced by President Trump in a rather unusual move.
While we await the official results into the two accidents that caused the grounding of the 737 MAX, some facts seem well established. It looks as though both accidents were caused by the aircraft’s anti-stall system. The aircraft has an additional MCAS system due to its design. This is to stop the aircraft stalling, due to its differing centre of gravity to older 737 models.
Boeing has been working on a fix to the anti-stall software for some time now. However, Reuters today reported that regulators including EASA knew that the MAX’s trim control was confusing.
When will the 737 MAX fly again?
There is currently great uncertainty in the industry as to when the Boeing 737 MAX will fly again. While American Airlines pilots are testing out the software fix in Boeing’s simulators, much more still needs to be done. Firstly, the manufacturer needs to convince the FAA that the fix has remedied the problem. Next, it then has to convince other agencies including EASA.
After convincing aviation authorities that the aircraft is safe, the manufacturer will then need to convince airlines that the aircraft is once again safe. We know that airlines are not just acting on authority’s orders, as many grounded the plane before their respective aviation authority. Finally, Boeing will need to convince the public that the aircraft is safe to fly.
What do airlines think?
There is no clear consensus on when the Boeing 737 MAX will fly again according to airlines. However, it seems as though some airlines are banking on using the aircraft from July. Air Canada has currently removed the aircraft from its schedules until 1st July, while TUI has arranged cover for the aircraft until mid-July. TUI did, however, tell The Independent that there was “considerable uncertainty around when the 737 Max will return to service”. Additionally, Norwegian Airlines confirmed 18 of their aircraft are grounded. Additionally, a Comair representative added: “We continue to consult with Boeing, technical experts and other operators.”
Simple Flying additionally contacted Southwest Airlines for comment, however, is still awaiting a response from each.
When do you think we will see the aircraft in the skies again? Would you trust it following recertification? Let us know in the comments down below!