WSJ: Boeing’s 737 MAX May Stay Grounded Until 2020

by Jessica Montevago
WSJ: Boeing’s 737 MAX May Stay Grounded Until 2020

American Airlines and United have extended cancellations into November, as the FAA continues a thorough recertification process. Photo: photomatika/

Boeing’s 737 MAX may stay grounded until early 2020, the Wall Street Journal has reported, despite the company’s efforts to get the planes back in service this year.

Based on the time it will take to fix flight-control software and complete other steps, the aircraft is expected to start flying again in January 2020 “under the latest scenario,” the WSJ said, citing a number of FAA officials and pilot-union leaders, a full 12 months after its initial replacement of software.

While the specific software fix for MCAS has been completed since May, but other issues stemming from engineering studies, ground-simulator sessions and flight tests have since been discovered. Another flight-control problem, involving failure of a microprocessor, was found in June when pilots had a difficult time recovering from a dive due to data processing by a flight computer. 

Once Boeing formally submits the proposed 737 MAX software and training updates to the FAA, it will begin a recertification process that could take weeks. Then, it could take airlines up to 45 days to complete necessary maintenance procedures and other mandatory checks by mechanics to bring MAX aircraft out of storage.

The FAA has said it is following a thorough process that has no timetable for when the recertification will be completed.

If the aircraft doesn't return to service until next year, airlines will have to grapple with the busy holiday season without the fuel-efficient jetliner.

American Airlines Group announced Sunday it would keep the jet off its schedule through Nov. 2, the fifth time the airline has adjusted its flights since the MAX’s grounding in March following two deadly crashes.

In a statement, American said the action will result in the cancellation of about 115 flights per day. It said it "remains confident" that the Boeing plane will be recertified this year.

United Airlines said last week that it was also extending its cancellations until early November, a month longer than it had planned. It is cutting 2,900 flights in October, more than twice the number it had to remove in July. United has 14 MAX jets and American has 24 of the aircraft.

Ryanair, Europe's biggest low-cost airline, said Tuesday it was planning to cut back operations at some airports and abandon others entirely because the 737 Max will likely remain grounded through the end of the year.
"We are starting a series of discussions with our airports to determine which of Ryanair's underperforming or loss making bases should suffer these short term cuts and/or closures from November 2019," the airline said in a statement.
Ryanair had planned its flight schedule based on the delivery of 58 of the 737 Max aircraft by summer 2020, and now expects to receive only 30.
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