Turkish Airlines Resumes Boeing 737 MAX Flights

Today, Turkish Airlines resumed flying its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, conducting a few short hops on domestic routes. The aircraft flown was TC-LCA, one of 11 737 MAX 8s already in the Turkish Fleet. The fleet is set to be expanded by a huge 54 additional aircraft over the coming years, complemented by 10 737 MAX 9.

Turkish Airlines 737 MAX
TC-LCA was the first MAX delivered to Turkish and the first to fly again after the grounding. Photo: Victor via Flickr

First MAX takes off for Turkish

Turkish Airlines is one of the biggest buyers of the 737 MAX in Europe, with an order in for 75 of the type. It is behind only IAG and the Ryanair Group in terms of its future fleet, and so was keen to resume flying the type once it was cleared by the regulators.

Turkey’s civil aviation authority, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), approved the types return to service last week. Initially, it was thought Turkish would resume flying the MAX on Monday, April 12th. While this didn’t happen, we didn’t have long to wait as today saw the type returning to Turkish skies.

TC-LCA took off from Istanbul at 10:00 this morning. It flew for just one hour, before landing in Ankara. At 11:50, the aircraft completed its rotation back to Istanbul, landing at just after 13:00. But its work wasn’t yet done, as later this afternoon, at 16:00 local, it undertook another rotation from Istanbul to Izmir. It returned just after 19:00 this evening.

Turkish Airlines Resumes Boeing 737 MAX Flights
The plane has flown four short domestic hops today. Data: RadarBox.com

This aircraft was the first MAX to arrive at Turkish Airlines and remains the only MAX reactivated so far. None of the others have flown in over two years. However, TC-LCE, another 737 MAX 8, has undertaken two test flights in the past week, suggesting it could be the second to return to service.

Turkish Airlines has a total of 11 737 MAX 8 in its fleet. All are configured with a two-class cabin, with 16 seats in business and 135 in economy. In addition to the MAX 8s, Turkish has one 737 MAX 9, registered TC-LYA. This has capacity for 16 business and 153 economy passengers, but is yet to be reactivated by the airline.

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More to come

While Turkish is busy getting its MAXs checked and back into service, Boeing is gearing up to begin delivering more to the carrier. Data from Planespotters.net shows that as many as eight 737 MAX 8 are being prepared for delivery. These will include the ‘missing’ registrations from Turkish’s neat alphabetical sequence, LCH and LCI, and then registrations TC-LCN through to T.

Delta Air Lines, Boeing 737 MAX, Ed Bastian
Many Turkish MAX planes have been parked in Seattle, awaiting delivery. Photo: Getty Images

Also incoming are four 737 MAX 9s, registrations TC-LYB through to E. When these arrive, this will be 50% of the total order of the larger MAX variant for the airline complete. These planes were ordered as part of a huge narrowbody order with Boeing, placed in 2013. With 20 737-800 also on the order, it was the biggest Boeing order by value in Turkish Airlines’ history.

For the MAX, it’s another operator back in the skies, as the world rapidly resumes service with the latest generation narrowbody. As well as Turkey, regulators in the UK, US, Europe, Canada, Brazil, the UAE and others have given the green light to the MAX. However, key authorities in both China and India are still yet to approve it to fly.