In another blow to the US aircraft manufacturer, Boeing has admitted that its 737 Max 8 aircraft will not return to service at least until after June this year.
Boeing had hoped that the 737 Max, which has been grounded since March 2019 after two crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia would return to commercial service this month. However, several more issues have been identified with the aircraft since then. Most recently a software problem with the aircraft’s flight-control computers has been reported.
Boeing said in a statement: “We are currently estimating that the ungrounding of the 737 MAX will begin during mid-2020. This update is subject to our ongoing attempts to address known schedule risks and further developments that may arise in connection with the certification process.”
Boeing added that this estimate accounts for the scrutiny regulators will apply to the 737 Max’s flight control system and new requirements for pilot training. The crashes have been blamed on an automatic system designed to correct the pitch of the aircraft at take-off and a lack of pilot-awareness about how this new system worked.
Production of the 737 Max was halted in December and the extra delays will be damaging to airlines who already have the aircraft in their fleet or were planning to acquire it. The 737 Max was Boeing’s fastest-selling aircraft with around 5,000 orders in place and almost 400 aircraft delivered before the grounding last year.
Meanwhile, flight test engineers at Boeing plan to fly the 777X for the first time this week. The 777X, which features folding wingtips, is planned to make its first flight on January 23 weather allowing. More details on the 777X and a live broadcast of the flight can be found here.