America Airlines – The Boeing 737 Max has flown over 2,700 flights since its November ungrounding as the EU gives the green light
Boeing737 Max has flown over 2,700 passenger flights across 5,500 hours since November 2020.
airlinescurrently fly passengers on the Max in the US, Canada, Brazil, Panama, and Mexico.
- The European Union
AviationSafety Agency approved the Max to fly passengers on Wednesday.
Boeing has put a considerable amount of distance between the 20-month grounding of its 737 Max and now to the tune of more than 2,700 flights and around 5,500 flight hours, the manufacturer announced on Wednesday.
“We made significant progress on the 737 program this quarter,” Dave Calhoun, Boeing‘s chief executive officer, said. “This is the culmination of a comprehensive effort including roughly 400,000 engineering hours, 1,400 test and check, and over 3,000 flight hours completed on the airplane.”
The Federal Aviation Administration cleared the Max to fly again on November 18, with regulators in Latin America, Canada, and most recently, the European Union following suit. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency gave Boeing‘s troubled aircraft the green light on Wednesday, allowing airlines like Ryanair, Norwegian Air Shuttle, and Icelandair, among others, to finally resume Max flights.
Middle Eastern, African, and Asian-Pacific countries remain the most notable outliers in resuming Max flights, with China, in particular, continuing to wait on the recertification. Calhoun said that any outstanding approvals from foreign regulators should come in the first half of 2021.
And despite the aircraft’s infamous reputation, airlines are reporting that flight loads remain in line with other aircraft, indicating that flyers aren’t actively avoiding the Max. Anticipated passenger skepticism over
Read more: The 16 most outrageous things Boeing employees said about the company, 737 Max program, and each other in released internal emails
The first priority for Boeing is to get the already-delivered Max aircraft flying again. Only five airlines have resumed flying their Max
“Every airline has different operational considerations for returning planes to revenue service and timelines for training their pilots,” Calhoun said. “We’re supporting each of them as they go through their process.”
Gol Linhas Aéreas was the first airline to resume Max flights in early December, soon followed by Aeromexico on December 21 and American Airlines on December 29.
American, despite its late start, is proving to be the primary driver of Max flights as it continues to grow its route network with the aircraft. In March, American’s 737 Max aircraft will be flying as far west as San Diego, California, as far north as Boston, and as far south as Manaus, Brazil, according to Cirium data.
United Airlines will resume Max flights on February 11 from Denver and Houston while Southwest Airlines will launch its first Max flights sometime in March, the latest of any US airline that flew the Max before its March 2019 grounding.
Simultaneously, Boeing will continue to deliver new Max aircraft to airlines as new-builds been sitting idle at airports across the country and in Seattle-area parking lots. Deliveries of the 450-aircraft backlog resumed in December and more than 40 aircraft have been delivered since then.
“Prior to delivery, teams are performing all the necessary tests and ensuring each airplane receives customized care and rolls into a delivery stall ready for customer acceptance and FAA review,” Calhoun said.
Alaska Airlines just took delivery of its first Max on January 23, the fourth and final US airline to receive the Max for now, with plans for a March 1 debut. The Seattle-Los Angeles and Seattle-San Diego routes will be the first to see the aircraft on its launch day.
Boeing lost hundreds of Max orders due to the aircraft’s grounding and the COVID-19 pandemic but new orders continue to come in. Since the ungrounding, Ireland’s Ryanair placed a 75-aircraft Max order, Alaska grew its firm Max order to 68 airplanes, and Canada’s Flair Airlines just leased 13 Max aircraft.
Billions, however, remain to be paid in compensation to customers due to the protracted grounding.
“Cumulatively, we’ve accrued a $9.6 billion liability for the estimated potential concessions and other considerations,” Gregory Smith, Boeing‘s chief financial officer, said on the 737 Max. “To date, we’ve made $3.7 billion in payments to customers in cash and other forms of compensation, including $600 million we paid this quarter.”
But the largest hurdle to Boeing‘s comeback following two fatal crashes with the Max has been overcome as the aircraft is once again back in the skies and as a result, deliveries have resumed and orders are once again coming in.
“Following one of the most rigorous certification efforts in aviation history, we’re confident in the safety of our airplane,” Calhoun said.