Boeing Targets Q3 To Resume 737 MAX Deliveries

The Boeing 737 MAX will not begin delivering now until the third quarter of 2020. Previously targeting mid-year, Boeing’s revised estimate of a return to service was presented in its first-quarter earnings call yesterday. Production of the narrowbody will also remain low throughout the year, gradually ramping up to 31 aircraft a month in 2021.

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The 737 MAX will not fly until Q3. Photo: Getty Images

No MAX until Q3

During Boeing’s first-quarter results call, the company revealed that the timeline for returning the 737 MAX to service had slipped a little. Chief Executive David Calhoun stated that the company is now focused on resuming deliveries of the grounded aircraft in the third quarter of the year, whereas before the target had been for ‘mid-year.’

While the early part of the third quarter could still be classed as mid-year, Boeing now has the breathing room to push deliveries to September. In the call yesterday, as reported by FlightGlobal, Calhoun said,

“We currently expect the necessary regulatory approval to allow Max deliveries in the third quarter. We are very confident that the process will conclude with the… certification.”

Production ramp up to slow

In light of the current challenges facing aviation, Boeing has revealed slower production rates for many of its products. The 787 line will reduce to 10 per month this year, and further to just seven a month from 2021. The 777/777X line will also reduce to just three per month by next year.

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Production of the narrowbody will remain ‘low’ throughout the year. Photo: Getty Images

In line with this, the projected ramp up of the 737 MAX production will also be curbed. Manufacturing was entirely suspended in December last year and had initially been slated to begin in May. However, the company previously said it would not manufacture any more MAXs until it could start shifting the 450 it has parked awaiting delivery. As such, we can assume that production will now not begin until deliveries begin in the third quarter.

Even after the grounding, the narrowbody was being produced at a rate as high as 42 aircraft per month. Now, Boeing says production will resume at a ‘low rate,’ targeting a gradual increase to a rate of 31 aircraft per month by 2021.

What still needs to be done?

To get the 737 MAX back in the skies, Boeing is entirely reliant on the actions of the FAA and other regulatory authorities. While the FAA is leading on the investigation into the aircraft, other regulators will also need to give clearance to the type to fly before it can leave the States.

Regulators typically take a lead from the FAA, but scrutiny of this jet, in particular, is expected to be intense. Several regulators, including EASA and CASA, have said they will undertake their own reviews before allowing the jet to fly.

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Other regulators want oversight of the recertification. Photo: Getty Images

Although the FAA has been positive that things are moving forward, new issues continue to be found. Software updates are ongoing, and just this week, it was revealed that debris findings are increasing scrutiny of Boeing’s production processes.

With sluggish demand for air travel as a result of the current crisis, few airlines will be concerned about further delays to MAX deliveries. For Boeing, however, each additional day the MAX remains grounded only adds to the bill of compensation payments due to its customers.

Will you be pleased to see the MAX fly later in the year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.