Updated: Jan 11
The optimism that the Boeing 737 MAX would fly again in the U.S. this year seems to have all but disappeared, while Boeing stands by their belief that the aircraft will be recertified by the end of the year.
On Wednesday, American Airlines announced that they expected the MAX to return to service on January 16, 2020. The airline had previously cancelled flights scheduled on the aircraft type through December 3, 2019. American Airlines has 24 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft which have been grounded since last March. In the company press release, American said they are in constant contact with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Transportation and still expect the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) software update to lead to recertification by the end of the year. Even if the aircraft is recertified by the end of the year, it will take over 100 labor hours to bring each aircraft back online, not including any extra training required by the FAA and/or individual airlines. The announcement leaves United Airlines as the only North American carrier holding to the hope that the MAX will fly this year, with a projected December 19, 2019 return date.
According to the announcement, American Airlines passengers booked on a MAX through January 6th will be accommodated on a 737-800 with the same seating configuration. Passengers booked on MAX fights from January 7th through January 15th will be accommodated on the same flight operated with either a 737-800 or Airbus aircraft. Customers subject to potential flight cancellations will be contacted directly by American Airlines’ Reservations and Sales team or by their travel agent directly starting October 13th. Beginning January 16th, American expects the MAX to resume service and be phased back into their schedule throughout January and February.
As previously reported, the return or the Boeing 737 MAX worldwide will be subject to independent recertification from various civil aviation regulatory authorities, including the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and other sovereign regulators. This represents a see-change from the precedent where international regulators generally accepted the certification or recertification decision of a manufacturer’s regulator of origin.
Source: American Airlines
Update (10/11/19): UPI reports that United Airlines has removed the Boeing 737 MAX from their schedule until January 6, 2020.
Update (10/16/19): Air Canada reports that they have removed the Boeing 737 MAX from their schedule until February 14, 2020.