More Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft Are Flying Than Before It Was Grounded

With over 370 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft now flying, there are now in service than when grounded in March 2019, according to a report by Ascend by Cirium. This is despite delivery delays in recent months and about one-third of aircraft remaining grounded, primarily because of China and regulators delaying approval to resume use.

American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8 N323SG (4) (1)
North America has pushed ahead in using MAX aircraft versus when the type was grounded in March 2019, while other regions – especially Asia-Pacific and Asia – remain down. Photo: Vincenzo Pace | Simple Flying.

What’s happening?

According to the Ascend by Cirium report published on September 23rd, the number of active B737 MAX aircraft on March 10th, 2019, totaled 368. This was the date of the Ethiopian Airlines accident which resulted in a worldwide grounding of the type until December 2020.

And now, in September 2021, there are more operational aircraft – over 370 – than at the time of the grounding. This has been helped by approximately 180 deliveries since December 2020, the report shows, when the MAX was used commercially again.

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American Airlines was the first airline in the United States to restart 737 MAX flights following the Federal Aviation Administration’s recertification of the aircraft. American flight 718 departed from Miami to New York LaGuardia on December 29th, 2020.

B737 MAX use
While total MAX aircraft almost reach 600, over 200 remain grounded. Source: Ascend by Cirium’s September 23rd report.

Where are MAX aircraft now mainly used?

North America has more operational B737 MAX aircraft than any other area, just as it did at the time of the grounding. While this region has pushed ahead, as shown in the figure below, progress is much slower than it would otherwise be because China has not one active example. MAX. However, as the report’s author, Max Kingsley-Jones, said:

China accounts for the second largest MAX fleet globally, at 97 aircraft. There have been indications recently that Chinese approval is imminent, but nothing has yet been confirmed officially.

B737 MAX use September 2021
China had the second-highest number of operational MAX aircraft in March 2019, but none in September 2021. Approval to unground the type is crucial. Source: Ascend by Cirium’s September 23rd report.

The MAX in North America

In September 2021, Air Canada, Alaska Airlines, American, Flair, Southwest, Sunwing, United Airlines, and WestJet all using the MAX And in recent news, WestJet will deploy its 174-seat 737 MAX 8 from Toronto to both Glasgow and Edinburgh, new routes for the carrier, in summer 2022.

Air Canada B737 MAX
North American carriers have about 21,000 MAX flights scheduled in September. Across both the US and Canada, Toronto-Vancouver has more movements by the type than any other airport pair, with Air Canada, Flair, and WestJet deploying it. Photo: Ace via Flickr.

The MAX 8 is inevitably the most popular variant, just like the middle-of-the-road next-generation B737-800. However, Alaska only uses larger MAX 9s while United uses both MAX 8s and 9s. Southwest has a considerable number of smaller MAX 7s on order to replace its B737-700s, while WestJet and United will have all three variants once all aircraft are delivered.

Have you flown the MAX this year? Let us know in the comments.

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