There may be a Boeing 737-MAX, the dreaded aircraft involved in two fatal crashes parked at your gate, sooner rather than later. European safety officials from the EASA have cleared the 737 MAX for flight as early as 2020, even as they request future safety modifications be added.
With firm orders in place from TUI, Ryanair, Air Europa, IAG the parent company of British Airways and Iberia, and even deliveries for Norwegian it could be a reality sooner than expected.
EASA Clears 737 MAX
The European Air Safety Board has cleared the Boeing 737 MAX for flight in European skies, with the potential to welcome commercial passengers before the end of 2020. Airlines famously, scandalously changed the paint job on these planes to remove any references to the ‘MAX’ name.
According to Bloomberg, Patrick Ky, Chairman of The European Air Safety Agency has requested future updates to 737-MAX software, and additional features for a longer, stretched out future version of the plane. Despite the additional requests, Ky cleared the plane to fly, pending four weeks of public comment and an official ‘air worthiness directive’ expected next month.
Europe is expected to be one of the biggest markets for the 737-MAX, with Norwegian TUI and Ryanair already scheduled to be big customers. Norwegian already received more than a dozen of the beleaguered aircraft, and the author even flew one across the Atlantic. Ryanair expects its first deliveries in early 2021, at the latest.
Who Will Fly The 737 MAX In Europe?
The MAX future is unclear for other airlines in Europe, particularly those within the IAG Group. IAG, the parent company of British Airways, Iberia and Aer Lingus had at least 200 aircraft on order, but pandemic woes will see many orders cancelled.
British Airways has shut down its Gatwick short haul flying base, which is where many 737-MAX aircraft on order were scheduled to go. Whichever IAG airlines the planes go to, these deliveries aren’t expected until 2022.
So who will be the first to put the MAX back in European skies? TUI and Norwegian would lead the way, with more than a dozen aircraft ready to reenter service. How can you find out if you’ll be on one?
Boeing has looked at dropping the ‘MAX’ name from official documents, creating confusion between the previous 737-8 and the newer 737 MAX 8. These new planes are fourth generation Boeing 737’s whereas previous 737-8’s were third generation.
In other words, if Boeing goes through with its rebrand, it’ll be tough for those not using apps like ExpertFlyer or FlightRadar24 to know what type they’ll be on, at least not before facing the plane at the gate. Despite the plane’s horrific past, it’s now easily the most tested plane in commercial history, which should mean it’s among the safest.