How Long Will The Boeing 737 MAX Grounding Last?

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Boeing’s beleaguered Boeing 737 MAX continues to face headwinds en route to recertification. So far, regulatory agencies have yet to recertify the aircraft and, with the holiday season coming up, 2020 is fast approaching. Which now begs the question; what will be the final duration of the 737 MAX grounding?

Boeing 737 MAX
The 737 MAX remains grounded as 2020 approaches. Photo: Nathan Coats via Flickr

What airlines are saying about the 737 MAX

Airlines have set out different timelines. On one hand, Icelandair announced a 737 MAX return to service date in May while American Airlines maintains an April return of service date. The commonality of both of these dates is that they extend beyond the one-year mark since the worldwide grounding started.

American Airlines 737 MAX
American Airlines has extended the 737 MAX grounding through April. Photo: Nathan Coats via Flickr

However, the timeline for an airline’s return to service is not the same for international regulators. While regulators may certify the aircraft sooner, airlines will need some time to return the aircraft to service. But they can’t even get started on that without the final seal of approval from regulators.

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What regulators are saying about the 737 MAX

The FAA, in particular, has not taken up a hard timeline for the recertification process. After losing an incredible amount of global confidence, the FAA has to ensure that the 737 MAX is entirely ready for service.

Boeing 737 MAX
The FAA has not set a clear timeline for the 737 MAX recertification process. Photo: Clemens Vasters via Flickr

While the EASA has provided a few more details, nothing regarding the 737 MAX recertification process is confirmed yet. This leaves passengers and airlines in the dark about what will happen with the 737 MAX.

So how long will the 737 MAX grounding last?

For now, the duration of the 737 MAX grounding is unclear. At the soonest, the 737 MAX could receive recertification in early 2020- perhaps late January or early February. However, it is unknown exactly how much is left for review, whether Boeing needs to make additional fixes, or whether all international regulators are on the same page. While the FAA may recertify the aircraft, it causes airlines some stress if other countries do not as it limits the aircraft’s scheduling and route capabilities.

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737 MAX
International carriers may struggle with 737 MAX scheduling of there is not a worldwide lifting of the 737 MAX grounding. Photo: Tomas del Coro via Flickr

Leeham News reports that some industry analysts think that it could be another 3-6 months before the 737 MAX flies again, after Boeing suspended production of the 737 MAX. This could wreak even more havoc on airlines if the type remains grounded through the busy summer 2020 season.

Ultimately, the FAA, EASA, and other safety agencies will control the timeline for the return of the 737 MAX. Whether regulators decide to take a month, two, or six more is up to them. At the end of the day, having a safe aircraft should be and is more important than any company’s bottom line.

MMEL 737 MAX FAA
The 737 MAX recertification is in the hands of international regulators. Photo: Boeing

Overall

Boeing did not release a timeline concerning the return of the 737 MAX to service. However, recent airline schedule pushes for the 737 MAX return to service indicate that some airlines believe the grounding is going to continue for a little longer than previously anticipated.

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While the 737 MAX has seen a number of return to service dates since the grounding started in March, all of them have come and gone. Now, it appears that 2020 could be the year of the return of the 737 MAX.

What do you think? When will the 737 MAX grounding end? Let us know in the comments!

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