United Airlines Extends Boeing 737 MAX Grounding Until March

United Airlines has joined Southwest and American Airlines in grounding the Boeing 737 until March. The announcement was made as the aircraft’s grounding enters its ninth month. In total, all three American carriers have now grounded the aircraft for around a year.

United Airlines, Boeing 737 MAX, March
United Airlines has extended its Boeing 737 MAX grounding until March 2020. Photo: United

The Boeing 737 was first grounded back in March following a second fatal crash involving the type in the space of six months. While the FAA and Boeing were initially hesitant to ground the aircraft, President Trump eventually waded in. Boeing is now working on getting a software fix approved on the aircraft. This would allow the aircraft to renter service sometime in January for most carriers.

What’s the latest from United?

United has now removed the Boeing 737 MAX from its schedules until the 4th of March, 2020. This will take the aircraft to a grounding of just under a year. According to The Points Guy, around 3,500 extra flights will be canceled as a result of the action.

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This equates to approximately 93 flights per day. This is not the first time that the 737 MAX’s reentry has been pushed back. In fact, since the grounding was first announced, it has been slowly pushed back in small steps.

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United Airlines, Boeing 737 MAX, March
The cabin of the airline’s 737 MAX aircraft. Photo: United

No compulsory MAX flights

United’s CEO, Oscar Munoz is more than aware that the popularity of the 737 MAX has been cut. This could potentially be due to the increasing usage of social media apps within society. What may have previously filled a slot on the 10 O’Clock news, is now right there, in everybody’s hands.

Earlier in November Mr Munoz told Simple Flying in London that the airline would not force any passengers to fly on the aircraft once it re-enters service. United Airlines will make it absolutely clear to passengers if they will be flying on the MAX. The airline will also let passengers booked on the 737 MAX to rebook for free if they suddenly get cold feet about their flights.

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In addition to all of the above, Mr Munoz has also pledged to be onboard the very first flight that the company operates with the Boeing 737 MAX. The thinking is that he wouldn’t get on the plane if he wasn’t convinced that it was safe.

United Airlines, Boeing 737 MAX, March
The airline won’t force any passengers to fly on the 737 MAX. Photo: United

The exact timeline of the Boeing 737 MAX’s return to service is currently unknown. However, Boeing was recently talking about completing the re-certification in the coming weeks. This would allow the manufacturer to resume deliveries in December, with a view to returning the aircraft to service in January.

Simple Flying has contacted United Airlines for comment.

Would you fly on United’s Boeing 737 MAX? Let us know why or why not in the comments below.

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David Culshaw

no never.

Christopher Bryant

I really don’t know if I would or wouldn’t fly on a Max once cleared. I probably would want to sit back and see how it performs industry wide for 2-3 month’s. I have a feeling that many airlines may take a strong look at trading in or selling their Max’s in favor of the Airbus A200/300 which is a very nice aircraft. But ultimately time will tell whether the Max receives redemption from the world-wide traveling public

Jim

I don’t think the trust will ever return. Given what we have learned about Boeing’s profit above all else culture, and the incestuous relationship with the FAA, it will be difficult for people to accept that the Max can now be trusted. If the airlines offer passengers the opportunity to rebook for free on another type of aircraft, it is likely the Max fleet will sit empty on the ground while the airlines scramble to find a replacement.

Owen Berkeley-Hill

I’ve always wondered just how close the relationship was between the FAA and Boeing. I also question the incompetence of aerospace journalists in not asking the right questions about how the FAA signed off the MCAS. For example, has anyone heard the FAA asking Boeing for their FMEA (Failure Mode and Effects Analysis) of the MCAS? This was the process by which the aerospace industry looked at new designs, the potential ways those designs could fail and the consequences of those failure modes. It was the FMEA, when applied, which made aircraft so much more reliable than cars in the… Read more »

William

The FAA wasn’t tracking the MCAS and other changes because Boeing didn’t inform them which it was supposed to. It fell behined. Self certification starts by the ODA within Boing telling the FAA it wants to certify something to a specific regulation. The FAA then says you can self certify, show me your proposed tests, they approve the tests and then Boeing performs the tests and submits the results and FAA approves those. Boeing fell years behind in the paper work re modifications to approved items. The FAA just didn’t know. So the FAA knew about the early MCAS the… Read more »

Nigel

You would have thought that all systems and most major parts that are on a aircraft would undergo FMEA, without it, confirming what can lead to failure how can they put a plan in place to overcome the risk of failure. In the case of MCAS which was only incorporated into the planes software system due to the re design or stretch of the main fuselage and of course the more powerful engines, that meant a relocation on the wing, which turned out to be a design floor. I have no idea what quality program Boeing follow, I would assume… Read more »

Gerry Stumpe

My flights are usually(always?) on Airbus a/c due to my propensity to fly Jet Blue or Spirit or Delta. I will admit that I will have reservations flying on the B-Max. But that said, I trust that when the FAA says that the MAX is now safe, that it is.

JackFlash

FAA had said it before and the reality proved them wrong.

William

I think it would best if in addition to the FAA another national agency also certifies to prevent cosyness developing. The European one EASA is good but I think it would be best to rotate. The Brazilians originally picked up the MCAS system existed, the Russians would be good and the Canadians and Chinese.

JFP

EASA will never certify the MAX or any other Boeing aircraft ever again. Like the FAA, they have taxpayers to answer to…

Frank

Anyone else get the feeling that 1) The Boeing statement about Dec re-certification was overly optimistic and 2) They said so only to drive up stock price and placate investors?

William

I suspect that first week in Feb will be the date for recertification.. There are 4 more steps to certification and there were 6 weeks to Christmass and I think they’ll miss that December date by 1-2 months. So April/May is plausible. I suspect the announcement just means Boeing is now sure theyre on the right path and a forever grounding requiring major re-engineering is unlikely.

Shapes

These airlines would do better publicly to cancel their orders and ask for their money back, everyone (including cabin crew and pilots) breathes a sigh of relief each time its re-entry date is pushed back, the max will never shake its killer reputation and boing will never shake its greedy arrogant image all the while mullborg is at the helm. All boing is trying to do now is push storage and other costs onto the airlines, charming! boing has learnt nothing and is as greedy and arrogant as ever. As to the FAA there are some people there who need… Read more »

William

if Boeing is more than 1 year late I suspect that it’s relatively easy for customers to cancel orders. That may explain the timeline.