In just a few days, the Boeing 737 MAX is expected to be recertified by regulators. After over a year on the ground, the US is expected to give the green light to the aircraft to return to service after pilots undergo further training, and existing planes get retrofits necessary.
The 737 MAX is expected to be certified on Wednesday
Reuters has pegged the day for US approval for the 737 MAX to be Wednesday. This would mark one year and eight months (20 months) from the type’s initial grounding in the United States. Outgoing President Trump’s administration will have overseen the entire recertification if the type is recertified for commercial flights on Wednesday.
In a sign of confidence that the plane type is ready to come back into service soon, American Airlines is aiming to restart 737 MAX operations at the end of December. In addition, pilots were expected to begin training as recommended by the Joint Operations Evaluations Board (JOEB).
Other regulators, like those in Europe, Canada, and Brazil, will likely follow soon after as these agencies have had a seat at the table in recertifying the aircraft. When other regulators, especially China, recertify the aircraft for flight is a different story.
The recertification process has revealed plenty of issues with the MAX. However, in recent months, it has been a fair amount of good news for the plane. This includes the FAA chief flying the MAX himself and projecting a satisfied attitude.
Once the aircraft is recertified, Boeing is hoping to get started on deliveries. The planemaker expects over 200 MAX deliveries in 2021. Then, there is the matter of outstanding 737 MAX liabilities.
The MCAS system
The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) was at the center of the 737 MAX debacle. It was designed to ensure the aircraft’s pitch stability. The system was necessary as Boeing designed the 737 MAX with larger engines that were placed further forward and higher up, which can create a pitch-up tendency. MCAS would push the nose down to avoid a high angle of attack, which could lead to a stall.
After many months of review, the FAA is looking at both software and system updates to make the aircraft safer.
How long will it take for the 737 MAX to reenter commercial service?
This depends on how airlines want to bring the type back. Like American, some airlines are expecting it to take about a month and then only fly a few jets at first on a limited schedule, leaving plenty of room to keep working on other parked 737 MAX jets before expanding MAX flight schedules.
Other airlines, like Southwest, are expecting a longer time to get the 737 MAX back into service. This is likely to get more aircraft ready for commercial service and be able to preserve the integrity of their schedule once the MAX does reenter commercial service.
Ideas like pre-service customer and media proving flights, customer tours, independent reviews, and more have been floated by various airlines that fly the 737 MAX. There is no one right way to get the MAX back in service, and airlines know that these aircraft have suffered a massive confidence hit over the MAX debacle from consumers.
Pilots and crew unions will also likely want to create a plan with the airlines to ensure that some are not forced to fly the plane if they are not comfortable with it. Some customers will also want to be able to avoid flying the MAX as well.
Are you looking forward to flying the Boeing 737 MAX again? Let us know in the comments!