Editor’s Comment: Hanging on to the old timer

LARA editor Glenn Sands provides a summary of the latest happenings across the low-fare airline and regional aviation industry.


The commercial aviation industry has now been bounced back to reality following the countless orders and self-congratulating that took place during Paris Air Show week. And yes, the main issue for many airline CEOs continues to be the MAX. It appears that although many LCC and budget airlines have continued to support Boeing and the aircraft, throughout the on-going crisis, for those that have the grounded MAX within their fleet, they are now making far longer-term provisional plans than they thought possible, as the grounding order appears to show no signs of being lifted yet.

The back-up plan for many is to retain their 737-700s in service for slightly longer. Ironic, as it’s the type that the MAX is intended to replace for many operators this year. Southwest has publicly announced that they will be retaining several -700s in service until the end of the year at least, which is when many airline CEOs think will be when the decision will be made to lift the worldwide grounding order.

It’s not as if something similar has never happened before regarding the rush to introduce new technology to the commercial aviation market. I recall when regional jets started flooding the market back in the 1990s, many thought that the turboprop’s days were numbered, but they were proved wrong. Companies such as ATR and Saab have proved that there’s still a place for ‘props’ in today’s world, where their unique capabilities are proving hard to replace.

With the talk of hypersonic business jets and electric regional airliners, which will “brush aside any of today’s technology,” a PR rep’ told me at Paris, I couldn’t help but wonder if I’ll still be looking at the latest 737 variant and a turboprop at an air show in 2030 – I expect so.

I’ll always support the development and introduction of new revolutionary technology to all aspects of aviation. But it must be done with one ear and eye open to the past, in order to learn from mistakes, or ask the question as to whether just a simple upgrade or improvement to existing tech is all that’s needed? It’s an expensive and difficult decision to judge.

The editor’s comment is published weekly as an accompaniment to the LARA e-newsletter. If you do not currently receive our email updates, you can subscribe here.

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