Travel data and analytics expert Cirium has released details about the company’s fleet analysis regarding the Boeing 737 MAX control unit issue which came into light last week and resulted in the grounding of the aircraft type.

Cirium’s analysis reveals that none of the nearly 90 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft delivered to operators after the restart of commercial operations with the type in early December 2020 has been tracked in flight since 9 April. This follows Boeing’s recommendation that the aircraft be removed from service due to a potential electrical system defect.

Graph supplied by Cirium.
Graph supplied by Cirium.

Cirium says its tracking data demonstrates that the majority of the affected aircraft had been operating regular commercial flights before being pulled from service, with American Airlines, Southwest and United most heavily impacted. These carriers have had a combined 63 aircraft withdrawn from service. Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operated by other carriers including Alaska Airlines, Belavia, Blue Air, Cayman Airways, Copa, GOL, Neos, Sunwing, TUI UK and WestJet have not been tracked in flight either.

Fleet utilisation

According to Cirium, this temporary withdrawal of the most-recently delivered MAX aircraft has had a comparatively modest impact on overall fleet utilisation due to carriers operating reduced schedules due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Cirium tracked nearly 130 MAX aircraft operating just under 400 services on Tuesday 8 April but says that despite the subsequent partial grounding, over 100 pre-2020 delivery aircraft operated nearly 350 flights on 13 April.

Boeing released the following statement on 9 April on its website: “Boeing has recommended to 16 customers that they address a potential electrical issue in a specific group of 737 MAX airplanes prior to further operations. The recommendation is being made to allow for verification that a sufficient ground path exists for a component of the electrical power system.”

“We are working closely with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on this production issue. We are also informing our customers of specific tail numbers affected and we will provide direction on appropriate corrective actions.”


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