New Delayed Timeline For 737 MAX Flights

Filed Under: Misc.

Yesterday I wrote about how the FAA discovered new problems with the troubled 737 MAX. The plane has been grounded globally since March.

Boeing has been working on the necessary software updates to make this plane airworthy again, and in mid-May they claimed that it was complete. At that point they just had to get the updates certified.

Well over a month later another major issue was discovered with the plane, as FAA pilots uncovered a data processing issue impacting their ability to perform the procedure for counteracting “runaway stabiliser.”

When should we expect Boeing to find a fix to this, and just how much of a delay will this cause? Let’s keep in mind that up until several days ago, many people (including some airline executives) thought that the 737 MAX could be flying again by August.

That’s definitely not happening now. Boeing has now stated that it will take until at least September to fix the newly discovered issue with the 737 MAX. OUCH.

So that’s about three months to find a fix, and that’s the best case scenario. Then they’re going to have to go through the process of actually getting the plane certified again, which I imagine will take at least several more weeks.

Keep in mind this most recent issue was discovered about six weeks after the previous software update was supposedly complete.

I would assume that the FAA will take at least another couple of months to certify the plane after a fix is found to this issue, especially in light of this further issue arising.

Given that all of this is best case scenario, I’d say it would be very surprising if the Boeing 737 MAX is back in the skies in 2019.

While it seems like Boeing and airlines are rushing to get the 737 MAX back into the skies (based on the fact that it was FAA pilots who discovered this flaw, and that some airline executives have suggested that it’s just “politics” keeping the plane from flying), it seems like the FAA is finally taking their time, realizing how much credibility has been lost in this process.

Even once the FAA certifies the plane, it will be up to aviation authorities in other countries to decide if they feel the plane is safe again.

Want to place your bet as to when the 737 MAX will be back in the skies?

  1. Turkish had pushed the re-entry date into service to 27 OCT. They’ve now removed it from the schedules, so they seem to think it’s later rather than sooner.

  2. Given the push of Boeing execs to increase the value of their stock options in relation to getting the plane to market, there is no telling what else is wrong with the MAX. Perhaps it’s not even worth getting the plane re-certified and telling Boeing to ditch it and their management team that created this deadly monster and public relations disaster.

  3. “Some airline executives”

    I know some here get all angry when you call out AA for being the dumpster fire they are. However, this is an example of where you need to call out Doug Parker by name once again like you did yesterday. The guy is a completely incompetent clown who went from caring about revenue more than passenger comfort to caring about revenue more than passengers living through one of his flights.

    Parker OUT!

  4. It is still very disheartening to realize that the FAA was never this careful and meticulous during the initial certification process not only of the MAX but, maybe, of every other plane flying out there.

  5. Note also that this time it’s seems to be a hardware issue(one of the micro processors). While we don’t know the detail, if hardware related it will be a nightmare to replace it in every single 737Max produced.

  6. Maybe Boeing can contract to AB to “private label” planes for them ! Disclosure I am not a huge fan of AB other than the 380

  7. @ hbilbao

    Unfortunately that’s an inevitable consequence of a society that can’t write the word “regulation” without writing in front of it “the burden of”.

    Where government and regulation is consistently attacked as an inherent evil (and private sector companies are lauded as angels of the highest order), regulators will outsource their compliance work to the companies, and the result is…

    Like most things in life, a healthy balance is usually best.

  8. It’s surprising to me that I never see anything in the press about United Airlines flight #585, which crashed in 1991, and USAir flight #427, which crashed in 1994. Both airplanes were 737’s that plunged nose-first into the ground, killing all onboard.

    If I’m not mistaken, the NTSB eventually determined that the crashes were a result of a sudden malfunction of the aircraft’s rudder power control unit. Following the second crash, Boeing agreed to redesign the rudder control system with a redundant backup and paid for the retrofit of the entire worldwide 737 fleet…

    Does any of this sound familiar?

  9. The MAX will not be carrying fare paying customers for the remainder of 2019 — maybe that is a good thing.

  10. I think we won’t even see it in 2020. this is going to be like the new Berlin airport. It will keep getting pushed back. I’m just expecting Beoing to stop production at some point.

  11. Airbus just killed the NMA with its family of A321 Neo – LR – XLR.
    Boeing is in serious trouble. I have a feeling the MAX will never fly again commercially and the 5000+ orders are going down the drain. As to the new 777, they are not in the blue either. Engines have killed airframes before.

    In case they need to rebrand the whole company, do they still own the names Douglas, Mc Donnell, and the prefixes DC and MD ? Who now owns thew names Convair and lockheed ?

  12. @Boogan — there’s a lot more wrong with the 737Max. I believe it was the Seattle Times which reported that there are issues with fireproofing, fuel temperatures in the wings, etc. BUT since this aircraft is being introduced under the existing 737 Type Rating, it’s grandfathered in. It’s my understanding that if this aircraft was required to get a new type rating that it’d have to be brought up-to-date to bring it up to modern design regulations.

  13. Who is going to let their loved ones fly this airframe again, even with software and hardware patches? Unless it is completely re-certified as to type, this plane will always be questioned now. As will all future Boeing products moving forward.

  14. I think it will be at least May 2020. In Europe and Asia probably even longer.

    If they have to change the microchip in plane, it won’t be before 2021.

    It’s time that they stopped makeing the Max, because they just havent got enough storage capacity.

  15. I believe Boeing will be in financial trouble soon.
    1. Class action by 400 pilots who cannot fly as aircraft is grounded . Some on reduced pay .
    2. Possible legal action against Boeing by selected airlines who are experiencing financial hardship because of this aircraft grounding.
    3. Even when this aircraft is flying again, many people will avoid it because the bad publicity will not go away .
    4. Substantial reduced sales of this aircraft to airlines, they will just not take the risk in future .Possible move by many airlines to Airbus and other manufacturers .
    5. New aircraft being built and tested in China , big competition in the world for Boeing

  16. Reported by Bloomberg today is that Boeing outsourced coding for the 737 Max to $9 an hour contractors overseas. Who weren’t experts at all in the job to hand, not surprisingly.
    The more we learn the worse it gets.

  17. @ experienced Traveller

    While I tend to agree with you on most points, you can forget the competition by Chinese-conceived airliners as an immediate concern. This will happen… maybe… in 20 years.

    I am perfectly aware of Chinese Comac plans with and without a joint venture with Russia, but if a giant like Boeing and it’s 80 years of modern airliners experience has been able to slip that badly, the opportunities for China (and Russia) to err are multiplied to the power of 10. Even Russia, with its 70 years of experience making good aircraft (althouth abominably uneconomical to operate), has never been able to build a competitive aircraft and its record while trying (from the Tupolev 204 to the Sukhoi Superjet) has been abysmal.

    If the 5000 orders for the MAX evaporate ( and they are starting to…), Boeing will either be bailed out or it will fold. We shall know shortly. If, and it looks like it, the MAX doesn’t re-enter service in 2019, it will be scrapped or know the fate of the Comet-4, post Comet-1 disasters. At the time a few dozen aircraft going to captive markets except that there are no more captive markets and the passengers now have a voice via social media and the Internet.

    To start, except a new massive reduction of monthly production. Like 50 to 30. That will be the beginning of the end.

  18. @Pierre
    Yes, you have some good points but I think maybe not 20 years before China has a decent short haul aircraft for use in China . Remember that the Chinese government owns large chunks of all the Chinese airlines , so I believe that the government will make them buy Chinese aircraft when the aircraft are ready A US company will not be able to compete in China , they will just get shut out and the Chinese Government have long memories , the current trade war by Trump will not be forgotten quickly. I worked in Hong Kong and China for 23 years .

  19. @ Experienced traveller

    Oh, a “Decent Short Haul aircraft to use in China”, they HAVE. Still being tested but it will be at best with the technology of the earliest A320 or B737 NG… 20 years late. In particular they seem completely unable to design curved parts such as the new transports’ wings. THAT is where the needed x% fuel economy is and why airlines buy aircraft of new generations. And a mishap like the MAX thing, Russians and Chinese do them much more frequently than the US , Brazilians, Canadians or EU. When 5 planes crash dometically, you just do not hear about it and they return to the drawing board.

    Re C 919 and C 921, the official number of prototypes is always below the truth. Some crash and are “forgotten”. “Retarding production of 3rd prototype” means “Nr 1 or 2 crashed, so the delay is producing nr 4, as 1or 2 never existed”. I have worked long enough in areospace, it is common knowledge.

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