United Airlines is moving onwards with a new Boeing 737 MAX. On Tuesday, the carrier took its first 737 MAX since the ungrounding, which helped mark the next chapter in Boeing’s history as it plans a post-MAX future. In fact, this was the first Boeing 737 MAX delivery after the grounding. For United Airlines, the delivery continues its long history with the American planemaker.
United Airlines takes a new Boeing 737 MAX
In the afternoon, local time in Chicago, a brand new Boeing 737 MAX was handed over from Boeing to United Airlines. The aircraft flew from Seattle’s King County International Airport – Boeing Field (BFI) to Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA).
— Flightradar24 (@flightradar24) December 8, 2020
UAL2703 took off at around 14:30 local time in Seattle and was in the air for about 80 minutes. A flight between BFI and SEA is not 80 minutes of distance, but the aircraft flew, likely running some tests, on the delivery flight out towards Yakima, Kennewick, and Walla Walla in south-central Washington. The plane landed safely in Seattle. This delivery comes as United eyes a resumption of 737 MAX flights from early 2021.
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United’s Boeing 737 MAX 9
United Airlines already has 14 Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft in its fleet. The planes seat 179 passengers in a two-class configuration. There is room for 20 passengers in first class and 159 in economy. Of those economy seats, 48 are extra-legroom coach seats, and 111 are standard economy seats.
United’s 737 MAX 9s do feature WiFi and power outlets, which are needed since the MAX does not have any seatback screens.
How United is getting the MAX back in service
United Airlines is getting all of its pilots who will fly the MAX the requisite training they need to be on the aircraft. This is training prescribed by the FAA and includes computer-based instruction, simulator training, and a systems briefing, checklist, and quick-reference handbook.
In addition, United test pilots will fly several test flights of each 737 MAX aircraft. The flight on Tuesday likely included some of the end-to-end reviews. The 737 MAX test pilots will also work with operations staff and technicians on these reviews that include system checks and data readouts.
Also, United will complete the FAA-approved flight deck software update, rewire the aircraft, open and inspect the fuel tanks, double-check fluids, tires, avionics, and engines, clean every aircraft, and cycle the air in the cabin every four days before the aircraft re-enter commercial service.
The start of Boeing’s mammoth task
As the first of nearly 450 undelivered Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to be handed over, this was a momentous occasion for Boeing. However, it is just the start of what will continue to be a long and arduous process.
Boeing will need to do work on nearly every 737 MAX aircraft before it goes out for delivery to a customer. Originally, Boeing had anticipated delivering over 400 of the 737 MAX aircraft within the first year of recertification. However, in October, the manufacturer slashed those delivery targets in half to about 225 deliveries.
Once the 737 MAX is recertified in more countries, including across Europe, it will open up more possibilities for deliveries to customers. This is, however, just the start of the next chapter for Boeing.
What do you make of the first 737 MAX delivery since the ungrounding? Are you glad that United is taking a new 737 MAX? Let us know in the comments!