Editor’s Comment: MAX – it’s too soon to commit…

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


It appears that it’s far too early for the US Federal Aviation Administration to disclose a date for when the 737 MAX will return to service. On 24 May, a marathon eight-hour meeting was held at Fort Worth with Boeing and aviation regulators from more than 30 countries. After that meeting, the acting FAA administrator, Dan Elwell, told aviation media:

“I’m not going down the timetable route. The only timetable we have is the analysis that says the MAX is good to fly and safe to fly. It is the one thing that we can’t be nailed down to. Because the last thing I want is to put a date out there and have everybody, either the FAA, or you, or the public, steer to that date instead of the end result of the process.”

For airlines, the safety of their passengers is uppermost, but this lack of clarification by the FAA leaves many in limbo in terms of when they can return to their pre-grounding alert operating schedules. When can they return leased aircraft and get things back to normal? Ask any airline this question and you get varying dates as to when they expect to have their MAXs back in regular service.

The 24 May meeting was described as “collegial” and “exceedingly positive”. Elwell said the FAA’s counterparts used the gathering as a chance to ask questions, rather than to propose recommendations to Boeing.

But while the technical software can be upgraded, what will be the mindset of crews and passengers once the MAX series does eventually return to service? Will there simply be a business as usual attitude? Or will passengers want to stick with what they are using now, rather than swapping to an upgraded but reputation-damaged MAX type? I predict interesting times ahead for the low-fare regional operators.

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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