United Airlines Relocating Grounded 737 MAX Jets to Arizona
United Airlines is moving its 14 Boeing 737 MAXes to a storage facility in Arizona as the grounding of the jets continues.
Since the Federal Aviation Administration barred the MAX from flying in March, United has stored 12 of its planes in Houston and the other two in Los Angeles.
Weather is the primary reason the planes in Houston need to be relocated, United said in a statement Wednesday. As hurricane season reaches its peak, it is safer to store aircraft at inland facilities where they are less likely to be damaged by storms. The two planes on the ground at LAX need to be moved because of a construction project at the airport.
"United is fully committed to the safe movement of all our MAX aircraft and we have clearance from the FAA to conduct these ferry flights," the airline said in its statement.
The planes will be put into short-term storage at Phoenix Goodyear Airport, a general aviation airport near near Phoenix.
The global fleet of 737 MAX jets was grounded following two fatal accidents — one in Indonesia and one in Ethiopia — in which a combined 346 people died. Flight control software is suspected of contributing to both crashes, and Boeing has been working with regulators, airlines and other stakeholders to develop an update and new training protocols for flight crews.
Airlines have had some difficulty maintaining their schedules as the grounding continues, and some have been forced to make permanent cuts to their route networks.
United currently plans to reintroduce the 737 MAX to commercial service on Nov. 3, but the FAA has not yet announced an end date to the grounding.
Other airlines are anticipating longer delays for the aircraft's return to service. Southwest, for example, has said its 737 MAXes won't fly passengers again until 2020.