Boeing Will Pay Millions For Parking 737 MAXs

While Boeing 737 MAX planes remain grounded, they’re not making airlines any money. But even worse is the high costs associated with storage and parking. That cost equates to $2,000 per month per plane, according to Bloomberg. With the grounding beginning in mid-March and re-certification at least a month away (if not more), these costs are piling up.

737 MAX aircraft are taking up large amounts of parking space at Boeing facilities in Washington. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Storage and maintenance

Most people are familiar with the cost of storage and maintenance in one form or another, whether its a lawnmower, a musical instrument or a vehicle. I had a motorcycle once, and every winter I had to take it off the street and store it away. Every springtime I would have to make sure the battery still had a charge and that the fuel didn’t go stale. It makes me thankful I’m not responsible for the storage of anything larger and more complex. Something like a 737 MAX.

According to Bloomberg, the only daily visitors that the parked 737 MAX aircraft get now are technicians, who visit to extract fuel samples in search of bacterial contamination. Stored in the dry Mojave Desert, Southwest’s 34 737 MAX planes need protection against the sun, wind and sand. In addition to this, planes must be sealed from birds and insects that can get inside the wheel wells and engine air inlets.

Southwest mechanics reportedly spool up the turbofans, turn on flight computers, and extend and retract flight-control surfaces such as wing flaps on a weekly basis. It’s a lot of time, energy and money spent on machines that were meant to be generating a profit.

Compensation sought

Airlines around the world have been demanding compensation. Two months ago, we wrote about how financially-struggling Norwegian is demanding compensation over the issue. And in more recent news, airlines in China are also demanding compensation, and Boeing have allegedly reached some sort of a deal with Ryanair.

Boeing must evaluate their response carefully. Almost 500 737 MAX aircraft all over the world have not flown for the last two months. With so many angry airlines looking to cover their bills, an agreement for compensation with one could lead to an astronomical cost.

It makes sense that if Boeing won’t pay for lost revenue, it could at least pay for storage and maintenance costs. If that were to happen, and the $2,000 per plane per month estimate is accurate, then Boeing would be paying out millions of dollars. It must be paying similar costs for parking it’s fresh-off-the-line 737 MAX planes in Washington, despite slowing production.

No fixed timeline

As we reported earlier this week, the grounding could be lifted as soon as late June. However, FAA representatives have made it clear there is still no firm timetable for the 737 MAX to fly again.

In fact, Daniel Elwell, acting administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, told reporters that there is still a lot of testing to be done, despite obvious pressure from airlines. He said to reporters:

“If it takes a year to find everything we need to give us the confidence to lift the order [to ground the planes], then so be it…We will not lift the prohibition until it’s safe to do so.”

Southwest Airline’s 34 737 MAX aircraft are stored in the Mojave Desert. Photo: Flickr user Paul Thompson

Conclusion

While there is clear and sizeable financial pressure to lift the grounding, there is an equal amount of pressure to make sure planes are fully safe to fly. This is not a process that can be rushed.

Until then, Boeing and airlines in possession of their “new” 737 MAX aircraft will have to continue paying their storage and maintenance costs. You can find out more about the challenges of the 737 MAX returning to service here.

7 comments
  1. The safest thing is to just avoid the 737 Max.

    I usually fly Delta. They don’t have any 737 Max aircraft. Google “Southwest Airlines is going to allow people who don’t want to fly on the Boeing 737 Max to switch planes for free”. Hopefully all other airlines allow passengers to avoid the 737 Max for free as well.

    If passengers refuse to board the 737 Max it will go away. Chopped up for scrap. Unable to kill any more customers.

    Both Boeing and the FAA said the plane was safe originally and also safe after almost every other country had grounded it after two crashes.
    Why would anyone believe anything they have to say about safety now?

    They used to be the safest in the world. Now it’s all about profits so we are on our own for safety.

    1. Why would you want to kill one of the most modern aircraft after the software upgrade? Have you even seen how are MAXes compared to NGs? It’s nothing like those barely visible changes to the 320 family by Airbus…

      1. Boeing’s original plan was to kill it and start again with a modern clean sheet design.
        Then the non-techies and sales killed that idea. As well as 346 passengers.

  2. Modern? Are you kidding?
    It’s a dinosaur designed in the 60s. It even still has cables and pulleys.
    It’s not designed for modern engines at all which is where the problem started.
    Google “The Boeing 737 Max is now the deadliest mainstream airliner”.
    Not just me. Pretty sure the 346 dead passengers and all their loved ones would like to kill it as well.
    Boeing should have killed it a long time ago.
    What other vehicle from the 60s is still being flogged?

  3. The Dehavilland comet had a similar fataly rate becuase of fatigue cracks which caused a couple of 100% fatal crashes months apart in the early 1950s. The Comet was grounded and they strengthened the fuselage once the causes were established. Some key differences, in the late 1940s when the Comet was designed there was less know-how and tools we have today. The engineers did not know about the fatigue, it was the first commerical jet flying at such altitudes and there was little understanding of the re-pressurisation. There was nothing for execs to hide or duct-tape over. Back then the crashes were tragic and horrible. The recent 737-max crashes were also tragic and horrible but also totally preventable and inexcusable with the tech and knowledge we have today. Here greedy management forced rushed single-fail buggy systems and to top it all off hid it from the pilots, the operators and the flying public! Toxic management. Whilst the inquiries are to confirm this is the only explanation I can find. In my opinion it was only because the first 737-max crash happened outside the US or Western Europe by an operator with a sub standard safety record that it was allowed to continue to fly. It was incredible that Muelleburg & co at Boeing still insisted it was safe *after* the Ehtiopian crash. Had governments not gounded it im sure, sadly , that there would have been more crashes. When is enough? With their poor judgement and oversight I am not confident the fixes will make it safe enough. Muellenburg and any execs those who forced this un-airworthy jet into service needs to resign, and the jet re-designed to something modern.

    1. Southwest had a deal with Boeing that no training would be required for the 737 Max or it would cost Boeing $1 million per plane. That explains why the bad aerodynamics and MCAS was kept a secret.

      Google and watch the video of a former Boeing operations analyst; cnn com/2019/04/05/business/boeing-737-max-production-cut/index

  4. Who on earth would trust their respective lives to Boeing and the FAA at this point?? Mullenberg’s attitude disgusts me. He still hasn’t owned up to accepting responsibility for a flawed aircraft that he pushed through development to compete with Airbus at the expense of passenger safety. The “max” should have been redesigned when it was learned that re-positioning the new engines closer to the fuselage could create a stall if the angle of attack were too sharp. Instead of going back to the drawing board with engineers, Boeing’s marketing strategy trumped all other concerns with a “software fix” adjusting the tail wings “automatically” without even telling the pilots. Boeing’s CEO knew of this, approved it, and sold it as a minor adjustment to airlines and pilots. Boeing approved of only ONE sensor for MCAS and to make the cockpit warning of a malfunction OPTIONAL to extort more money from airlines on what should have been a clear SAFETY precaution and listed as standard equipment. I would never fly on this plane, no matter what this CEO (with blood on his hands) or the FAA (the fox guarding the hen house) say

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