In early July this year, Boeing started the process of recertification of its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.
The Federal Aviation Administration announced on 1 July that Boeing’s 737 MAX had completed test flights that are a crucial part of the certification process. A number of key tasks remain to be completed, including analysis and evaluation of the data collected during these flights.
Industry analysts have predicted that the B737 MAX could be permitted to carry passengers again as early as this fall. Airlines will then have to recertify their pilots before they are allowed to fly the aircraft. These processes will be completed by the end of this year, and we foresee the B737 MAX taking to the skies by early 2021.
The recertification the B737 MAX is being carried out using the smallest variant, the B737 MAX-7.
The software called Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) is a part of the flight control system. In April 2019, Boeing admitted that MCAS played a role in both accidents. Therefore, a more significant effort was put in by Boeing to rectify the issues of MCAS.
Besides, Boeing is also implementing strategies which will lead towards a comprehensive cultural shift towards enhanced safety. The fundamental changes that Boeing is implementing are listed in the chart below.
The B737 MAX was the fastest-selling aircraft for Boeing. It was all about fuel economy.
At the beginning of 2019, Boeing had more than 5000 orders for the Boeing 737 MAX. Figure-1 shows the status of orders and deliveries of the B737 MAX during the last decade. Taking into account the cancellations, as of June 2020, Boeing’s unfulfilled orders for the aircraft stand at 4172. Due to the pandemic, Boeing had slashed its production.
Airlines had placed orders very early since it takes 6 to 7 years for an aircraft to be delivered. Most of the airlines are still betting on the safe return of the B737 MAX.
The Top-10 customers of the B737 MAX are listed in Figure-2.
Southwest Airlines is the largest 737 MAX customer. “We are losing $20 million a day due to these grounded aircraft”, said Gary Kelly, Southwest’s CEO. The airline was keen to see the Boeing 737 MAX fly again by August this year. The whole process got delayed due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Why airlines flocked for this aircraft? Apart from the fuel efficiency, the plane was ideal for both short and long-haul services.
The Boeing 737 MAX comes in four variants, the MAX-7 to MAX-10. The passenger capacity varies from 172 and to 230. The range of the variants is almost identical – more than 6570 km. The MAX-9 and MAX-10 are fitted with one additional auxiliary fuel tank to take care of higher fuel burn due to the extra weight of the aircraft.
The interiors are attractively done up, and added to that is Boeing’s Sky Interior Mood Lighting system. The flight deck is very similar to the Boeing 737 NG and pilots find it a familiar place.
Travellers are still feeling apprehensive about travelling on a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. However, once the plane returns to flying, travellers will be left with limited options. For some time, airlines may show flexibility in letting passengers change their schedules to avoid flying on a MAX. But rest assured, the Boeing 737 MAX is here to stay.
Are you ready to fly aboard the Boeing 737 MAX again? Let us know in the comments below.