At the end of last week American Airlines told its pilots that based on conversations with the FAA and Administrator Stephen Dickson that they “see the finish line, it’s making good progress” bringing the Boeing 737 MAX into service. Their “targeted timeframe… [is] end of October-ish for the ungrounding to occur” for the aircraft. American intends to fly passengers in commercial service with the MAX starting in the second half of December.
The Joint Operation Evaluation Board process for the aircraft is “finalizing” while the agency’s Notice of Proposed Rulemaking which closes in September should yield a final rule in October and “will mandate software and other mod[ifications], some [American Airlines is already working through.”
American has expected it to take about a month from re-certification to be flying the plane in commercial service again. They’re getting aircraft ready for that – all of the MAX aircraft have been moved out of storage in Roswell and all 24 of their MAXs which have been delivered are now at their maintenance facility in Tulsa.
The airline reports that “every aircraft..flew clean” out of Roswell with “no writeups.” The last two were flown by members of Ad Hoc Committee from American’s pilots union.
American can’t start pilot training until the FAA publishes its final rule in October. Then they’ll “get check airmen trained, and start bringing pilots through for mandatory training.”
It will take a couple of months to get all their pilots through training. They’ve lined up capacity for this in Dallas and Miami. American Airlines has only one 737 MAX simulator but expected to have access to a simulator from Boeing, and one from maintenance, repair, and overhaul company CAE.
American’s current plan is to introduce 7 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into their schedule for the second half of December, gradually adding in the rest of the planes. They’ll be Miami-based to start because that lets them “centralize the qualification requirement for pilots to certify on new training.”
According to Senior Vice President Vasu Raja, assuming they don’t grow their flight schedule between now and December they’ll still fly the new MAX aircraft and they’d replace “block 1” older 737-800s that would sit instead.
Last month American Airlines President Robert Isom told employees that the Boeing 737 MAX could fly again in December and it continues to appear to be on track for that. Europe and Canada are in the process of re-certifying. Some countries may certify the MAX quickly, but at a minimum we should see several recertifications come soon after the FAA signs off, perhaps even during the period between ungrounding here in the U.S. and the plane’s initial return to commercial service.