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FAA move could have Boeing 737 MAX flying again this fall

July 21, 2020
3 min read
FAA move could have Boeing 737 MAX flying again this fall
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Boeing's beleaguered 737 MAX could be flying by the end of the year after U.S. regulators unveiled the latest step in efforts to recertify the jet for passenger service.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Tuesday that it would issue a directive on design changes and crew procedures needed to return the jet to service. The directive, which the FAA said would come "in the near future," would open a 45-day public comment period on the matter.

A Boeing spokesperson told TPG that the Chicago-based planemaker continues to work closely with the FAA and other global regulators to safely return the MAX to service.

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Currently, American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and United Airlines have published schedules with the MAX starting Sept. 9, Oct. 8 and Sept. 8, respectively, according to Cirium schedules. However, those dates are widely expected to be pushed back until the FAA clears the jet to fly again.

The proposed directive announced Tuesday comes nearly three weeks after the FAA completed re-certification flight tests with a 737 MAX 7 jet. However, even after the 45-day comment period ends, the regulator lists seven other action items needed to re-certify the aircraft. Those actions include issuance of the final report, approvals by other regulators and — though not specified — a test flight by FAA administrator Steve Dickson himself.

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The exact timing of when the MAX might be recertified remained uncertain, though various reports suggested it was unlikely to occur before October. Whenever the MAX does fly again, its return appears likely to come amid one of the worst periods in the history of aviation, with airlines grounding hundreds of planes due travelers staying home during the ongoing COVID pandemic.

Related: Boeing’s 737 MAX completes recertification flights

Returning the MAX to airline schedules will lag the jet's formal recertficiation, whenever that comes. Boeing and airlines will need to make the necessary modifications to existing aircraft and bring them out of storage. In addition, pilots are expected to need additional training time before they can fly the planes again.

In January, Southwest chief operating officer Mike Van de Ven said the carrier anticipated at least a month of work and training before it can return to the 737 MAX to service after the jet is re-certified. Assuming the FAA gives the MAX an OK in October, this timeline would suggest U.S. flyers are unlikely to see it before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.

The MAX has been grounded since March 2019 after two fatal crashes of models flown by Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air that claimed the lives of 346 people.

Related: Boeing plans to resume 737 MAX production this month

Featured image by AFP/Getty Images

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Best for the well-traveled foodie
TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
Go to review

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4XEarn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S.
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    670-850
    Excellent/Good

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There's a lot to love about the Amex Gold card. It's been a fan favorite during the pandemic because of its fantastic rewards rate on restaurants (that includes takeout and delivery in the U.S.!) and U.S. supermarkets. If you're hitting the skies soon, you'll also earn bonus points on travel. Paired with up to $120 in Uber Cash (for U.S. Uber rides or Uber Eats orders) and up to $120 in annual dining statement credits at eligible partners, there's no reason that the foodie shouldn't add this card to their wallet. Enrollment required.

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  • Some may have trouble using Uber/food credits
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  • Earn 60,000 Membership Rewards® points after you spend $4,000 on eligible purchases with your new Card within the first 6 months of Card Membership.
  • Earn 4X Membership Rewards® Points at Restaurants, plus takeout and delivery in the U.S., and earn 4X Membership Rewards® points at U.S. supermarkets (on up to $25,000 per calendar year in purchases, then 1X).
  • Earn 3X Membership Rewards® points on flights booked directly with airlines or on amextravel.com.
  • $120 Uber Cash on Gold: Add your Gold Card to your Uber account and each month automatically get $10 in Uber Cash for Uber Eats orders or Uber rides in the U.S., totaling up to $120 per year.
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  • Annual Fee is $250.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees