Logistics

Some US airlines willing to take 737 MAX jets before pilot training approval: Sources

Reuters CHICAGO | Updated on November 13, 2019 Published on November 13, 2019

Every Boeing 737 MAX around the world was grounded after the Ethiopian Airlines crash. File Photo   -  Reuters

By starting to hand over 737 MAX jets, Boeing would get a head start on what airlines predict will be the biggest delivery logjam in civil aviation history

Some US airlines are willing to pick up their 737 MAX jets from Boeing Co as soon as December if the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approves delivery of the grounded planes before new pilot training is agreed, three people with knowledge of the matter said.

Hundreds of 737 MAX jets have rolled off Boeing's Seattle production line in the months since two fatal crashes on the aircraft led to a global safety ban, forcing the planemaker to park un-flown jets at facilities across Washington state until regulators approve software and training updates.

Boeing on Monday said the FAA could issue an order approving the plane's return to service in December, even though approval for training changes would take more time.

Also read: Indian pilots express doubts about resuming commercial services with 737 MAX in Jan

The FAA has repeatedly said that it has set no time frame for the process. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said on Tuesday that a decision for the MAX “will be made solely on our assessment of the sufficiency of Boeing's proposed software updates and pilot training.”

By starting to hand over 737 MAX jets, Boeing would get a head start on what airlines predict will be the biggest delivery logjam in civil aviation history, while also protecting output. The longer the 737 MAX grounding lasts, the longer it will take Boeing to work through deliveries and the higher the risk it will have to halt production of the money-spinning MAX.

The people with knowledge of the situation spoke on condition of anonymity due to continued uncertainty surrounding a definitive return-to-service date.

Southwest Airlines, American Airlines Group Inc and United Airlines, which had MAX aircraft in their fleets at the time of the March grounding and more on order, have had to repeatedly extend daily flight cancellations as they await regulatory approval.

Alaska Air Group Inc was expecting to receive its first 737 MAX deliveries this year.

The conditions for 737 MAX delivery or contract terms were not disclosed, raising questions on whether any movements would be more of a pre-positioning rather than an actual delivery. Aircraft deliveries entail extensive paperwork, lawyers, and crucially, payment.

One benefit is that aircraft do not depreciate until they start flying, so while an aircraft may be sitting, it still retains the same value until it begins to fly, one person said.

Some 737 MAX jets are in long-term storage with their engines sealed to prevent invasion from birds and wildlife, while others are receiving nearly daily checks that would enable a quicker return to flight. Either way, there is an expense.

Boeing has already set aside billions to compensate airlines for the cost of the grounding.

Still, Southwest, American and United have all said that they want their MAX orders as soon as possible.

“Not being at the front of the line may impact each airline's delivery plans,” said Greg Bowen, committee chairman for training and standards at the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association.

Published on November 13, 2019

A letter from the Editor


Dear Readers,

The coronavirus crisis has changed the world completely in the last few months. All of us have been locked into our homes, economic activity has come to a near standstill. Everyone has been impacted.

Including your favourite business and financial newspaper. Our printing and distribution chains have been severely disrupted across the country, leaving readers without access to newspapers. Newspaper delivery agents have also been unable to service their customers because of multiple restrictions.

In these difficult times, we, at BusinessLine have been working continuously every day so that you are informed about all the developments – whether on the pandemic, on policy responses, or the impact on the world of business and finance. Our team has been working round the clock to keep track of developments so that you – the reader – gets accurate information and actionable insights so that you can protect your jobs, businesses, finances and investments.

We are trying our best to ensure the newspaper reaches your hands every day. We have also ensured that even if your paper is not delivered, you can access BusinessLine in the e-paper format – just as it appears in print. Our website and apps too, are updated every minute, so that you can access the information you want anywhere, anytime.

But all this comes at a heavy cost. As you are aware, the lockdowns have wiped out almost all our entire revenue stream. Sustaining our quality journalism has become extremely challenging. That we have managed so far is thanks to your support. I thank all our subscribers – print and digital – for your support.

I appeal to all or readers to help us navigate these challenging times and help sustain one of the truly independent and credible voices in the world of Indian journalism. Doing so is easy. You can help us enormously simply by subscribing to our digital or e-paper editions. We offer several affordable subscription plans for our website, which includes Portfolio, our investment advisory section that offers rich investment advice from our highly qualified, in-house Research Bureau, the only such team in the Indian newspaper industry.

A little help from you can make a huge difference to the cause of quality journalism!

Support Quality Journalism
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor
You have read 1 out of 3 free articles for this week. For full access, please subscribe and get unlimited access to all sections.