The United States Federal Aviation Agency (FAA) authorized the return of the Boeing 737 MAX on Wednesday, but it will be a few weeks before the aircraft is back in service and many months before the company overcomes a crisis worsened by the current one. coronavirus pandemic.
– When will the 737 MAX fly again?
The announcement of the FAA officially ends 20 months of immobilization of the device in the United States.
But airlines that already have 737 MAXs in their fleet must make the changes required by the FAA: updating several operational programs and repositioning some cables.
They also have to train their pilots in the new system, which must be validated by the regulator. A mandatory passage through a simulator is planned – there are currently only about fifty in the world – which in turn will be subject to rigorous protocols due to the pandemic.
The American Airlines company has already announced its intention to include the 737 MAX in its grid, with a flight on December 29 for a route between Miami and New York.
Southwest, the airline that operates the largest number of MAXs in the world, said it will likely add the model to its roster in the second quarter of 2021, after prior training of about 9,000 pilots.
In turn, United Airlines announced that it will do so “sometime next year.”
In other parts of the world, it will be up to the respective aviation authorities to decide the return of the 737 MAX.
Transport Canada and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) have already conducted their own test flights on the 737 MAX.
The Canadian agency said it will “very soon” complete its own validation process and request “additional in-cabin and pre-flight procedures, as well as additions to training.”
EASA, for its part, should officially give the green light in late 2020 or early 2021.
– Back to normal? –
Boeing has 450 aircraft in stock ready to be delivered to customers, some of which have been waiting for more than 20 months, in not necessarily optimal conditions.
But it’s not just about opening the doors to ventilate and vacuum, the changes required by the FAA must also be made.
The company will also have to completely change the interior configuration of certain aircraft prepared for customers who have canceled their orders.
FAA officials will personally review each of these devices prior to issuing certificates of seaworthiness and export certificates.
Boeing expects to be able to deliver half of its aircraft in stock by the end of 2021 and “most of the remainder” in 2022.
– Clear horizon?
In addition to the problems directly related to the tragic accidents of Lion Air (October 2018) and Ethiopian Airlines (March 2019) that left 346 dead, Boeing must face the consequences of the pandemic on air traffic, which has been reduced drastically.
It is difficult to determine whether the 555 order cancellations suffered by Boeing between March 2019 and October 2020 are more related to the prolonged immobilization of the 737 MAX or to financial difficulties for customers.
Boeing, which opened its order book in 2011 and delivered its first aircraft in 2017, still has 3,320 aircraft to deliver. The question now is how many more will be ordered.
Boeing will certainly want to delay the introduction of a new aircraft as long as possible so as not to encourage potential customers to forego orders for the 737 MAX and all the services associated with it, said Ken Herbert of Canaccord Genuity.
But your engineers, your suppliers, and the manufacturer can’t put this time off indefinitely because of competition.
“The return of the MAX to service and the arrival of a vaccine (against covid-19) will certainly help, but the group has gone into so much debt that it currently has no money to really invest in new products, at a time when it is losing its quota. market versus Airbus and that its larger 777X and 787 aircraft are under pressure due to the drop in international travel, “he added.
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