Southwest Airlines Pulls 737 MAX From Schedules Until February

Southwest Airlines has delayed the anticipated re-entry of its Boeing 737 MAX. The airline said the decision was made after Boeing was unable to provide concrete timelines for necessary fixes.

Southwest Airlines has delayed its 737 MAX services. Photo: Bill Abbott via Flickr

Today, Southwest Airlines provided an update to its 737 MAX 8 service page, in which it told its customers that the reintroduction of the aircraft would now be delayed. The airline said:

“We previously revised our flight schedule by removing the MAX through Jan. 5, 2020 to offer reliability to our operation and stability for our Customers. With the timing of the MAX’s return-to-service still uncertain, we are extending the MAX-related flight schedule adjustments through Feb. 8, 2020.”

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Southwest Airlines said that a number of passengers had already booked flights onboard its 737 MAX services in 2020. However, the airline said that it would work to accommodate those passengers to facilitate their travel requirements.

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Delaying services further

The 737 MAX was due to operate again at the start of 2020. But, since Boeing is still undergoing the final improvements needed for the model to operate again, nothing is yet finalised.

Boeing has not yet provided a finalized solution. Photo: Bill Abbott via Flickr

Southwest Airlines has reasoned that changing the date of operation for the Boeing 737 MAX at this stage would be better than doing it later in the game. It said:

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“By proactively removing the MAX from scheduled service, we can reduce last-minute flight cancellations and unexpected disruptions to our Customers’ travel plans.”

The news of its delayed returns likely comes off the back of forecasts from the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association (SWAPA). Southwest Airlines pilots first predicted that the grounding could last until March next year. However, they recently changed their verdict.

On 14th October, they said that the Boeing 737 MAX was unlikely to re-enter service until February 2020 despite Southwest and other airlines saying different.

Southwest Airlines is now following on in the same direction as Air Canada. The Canadian carrier has now scheduled the Boeing 737 MAX into service from 14th February 2020 onwards, in order to provide more stability for its customers.

Air Canada and Southwest have delayed 737 MAX services. Will others follow? Photo: Acefitt via Wikimedia Commons

It might not be long until other airlines as well, like United Airlines, also change their decisions for 2020.

Is there a fix?

The exclusion of the 737 MAX from its service has already cost Southwest Airlines members in excess of $100 million. On 7th October 2019, Southwest Airlines filed a lawsuit against Boeing for the damages.

After nearly seven months of grounding, we hope that Boeing is able to provide a solution soon.

Southwest’s 737 MAX will hopefully return soon. Photo: Colin Brown Photography via Flickr

Continuing with utmost scrutiny

Despite the silence on the deadline, Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are taking every precaution to ensure that the process moves forward in the best way possible. On 10th October, the FAA said:

“Today’s unprecedented U.S. safety record was built on the willingness of aviation professionals to embrace hard lessons and to seek continuous improvement. We welcome this scrutiny and are confident that our openness to these efforts will further bolster aviation safety worldwide.”

Do you think the Boeing 737 MAX grounding will end in February 2020? Let us know in the comments!

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Frank

But really, who can blame Boeing? After two devastating crashes and months of bad press, it’s going to want to get this fix spot on. There is plenty of blame for Boeing, here. Methinks that rather then Boeing taking it’s time to try and get it right – it’s more of a case that they haven’t found the right fix yet that will get them out from under international scrutiny. The FAA is probably ready to put it back into service, as soon as Boeing submits the software, but they are going to be alone. The longer this goes on,… Read more »

Shapes

You’re right, personally I don’t think there is a fix, certainly not software, and I’m not sure even a hardware fix is a possibility, The easy option of extending the main landing gear is near impossible on this old design.
I think soon the bubble will burst for boing, production will stop, the stock will crash, mullborg will be out. Boing will have nothing viable to sell in this market, and yes soon it will be the max’s 1 year grounded anniversary.

Alexander More

Whenever the 737 MAX re-enters service, and regardless of what changes have been made to the flight control systems, I hope it will not be before the angle-of-attack sensors themselves have been rigorously reviewed. Even though a malfunction of the sensors (or, as we now know, sensor) was the first in the chain of events leading to both crashes, all the Boeing/FAA statements and the press reports seem to have concentrated on MCAS and there has been little focus on the angle-of-attack sensors themselves. From the photographs I have seen of them, they would appear to be in a highly… Read more »

Kevin

The FAA needs to tread carefully here as well. They have egg all over their faces from the original MAX/MCAS certification. They would do well to consult carefully with their foreign counterparts, many of whom have expressed serious concerns about Boeing’s so-called fixes. It seems they are wary of Boeing’s assurances that the flight control systems of the MAX are now able to handle all the data fed to them. Tread carefully FAA!

HereWeGo

I guess everyone involved is very aware of what would happen if only one of those things ever crashes after recertification: both Boeing and the FAA, maybe even the airline flying it, would be dead meat, to say the least…

Frank

Uh-oh, here we go. It is being reported that the pilot (Forkner) lied to the FAA – as shown in an internal message from 2016 and that Boeing dragged it’s heels in turning over this message to the FAA. No wonder why Forkner pleaded the 5th on turning over stuff to investigators…

Shapes

He knows he’s the fall guy.