I’ve been expecting the Boeing 737 MAX to return to the skies before the end of the year, and it’s looking a bit touch and go whether it’ll re-enter commercial service by then. However American Airlines President Robert Isom told employees of the airline on Thursday that they currently expect the plane to be approved to fly by the FAA in October and back in the air flying for commercial airlines in December.
We have obviously the 24 aircraft plus more on order.
Boeing is going to get the aircraft back up in the air. They’re going through the paces and right now are suggesting it may be ungrounded as soon as October, potentially allowing flights towards the end of the year.
We’ll continue to work with Boeing on it, and just be really flexible. We know it’s gonna be back up, and it’s going to be the safest aircraft possible. And right now if we see it at the end of December that’s probably about the best timing we can think of.
While American said they wouldn’t accept new Boeing 737s without financing that was really about the financing and not about whether they’ll accept new aircraft, as they’ve planned to throughout the pandemic even as they park and retire aircraft and still have more planes than they need to meet demand.
United Airlines has said it won’t take any Boeing 737 MAXs in 2022. I have to think that American’s reason for buying new planes, and adding even more expense, is driven by details of its $600 million settlement with Boeing, that they somehow otherwise don’t get the benefit of that deal if they renege on future deliveries. Otherwise taking even more new planes now is simply irrational.
The FAA approving the plane doesn’t mean it’s approved elsewhere in the world. There have been efforts to get other safety regulators to sign off when the FAA does, and if that doesn’t happen the planes will need to avoid other countries’ airspace – which is easier to do right now with so many countries still closed.
The expectation is, I think, that in the time after the FAA re-certifies the aircraft, in the weeks it takes for commercial airlines to bring the planes back into service and complete required trainings (including flight simulator time), that some other regulators will approve the plane as well.