Boeing: Latest 737 MAX Grounding Won’t Drag On

Boeing 737 MAX airplanes
Credit: David Ryder / Getty Images

While Boeing, the FAA, and affected operators continue to collaborate on fixes for 737 MAXs that are out of service awaiting electrical-system modifications, executives at the manufacturer and one affected customer are confident the disruption will not drag on.

“It’s an issue that I think is well understood by Boeing, our customers and by the FAA,” Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun said at the company’s annual shareholders meeting April 20. “The job at hand is to rework procedures that need to be perfected and blessed by our regulator that are now in everybody’s hands. And that’s exactly what they’re doing.”

The FAA said it will review any proposed fixes and declined to comment further.

Boeing advised operators on April 8 to park 737 MAXs built with a production-line change that creates grounding and bonding issues in three specific areas. Affected aircraft were built starting in early 2019. Sixteen operators had 89 of them in service when Boeing discovered the issue; all remain parked. 

Boeing has another 370 in its stored 737 MAX inventory that are affected. Any modifications would have to be done before they can be given airworthiness certificates necessary for delivery. 

In-service aircraft face inspections and likely immediate modifications as well.

United Airlines, which pulled 17 of its 30 737 MAXs out of service because of the issue, is confident that the entire fleet will be back flying “in the very near future,” COO Jonathan Roitman said on the airline’s April 20 earnings call. 

“We have really good collaboration with Boeing and the FAA,” Roitman added. “We think the solution, once it’s formally identified, is relatively straightforward.”

Calhoun said Boeing will make the necessary production-line changes “quickly [and] efficiently” while working with affected customers to modify the in-service fleet. He declined to offer any specifics on a time line.

“I don’t want to suggest the [approval] date because that’s not what we do—the FAA does. But I believe it’ll be in relatively short order,” Calhoun said. “Those work efforts out there in the field ... will be measured in days, not weeks or months.”

Boeing averaged 19-20 737 MAX deliveries per month in the first quarter, totaling 58. It has delivered four in April—none since the electrical issue was revealed. 


Sean Broderick

Senior Air Transport & Safety Editor Sean Broderick covers aviation safety, MRO, and the airline business from Aviation Week Network's Washington, D.C. office.


1 Comment
Boeing Management has succeeded into turning Boeing into a Clown Show.

There are so many levels that this kind of failure of quality control is another example (of so many) sending Boeing down the drain.

There is nothign more basic nor easier to ensure a good ground. Its the first thing you do with any electrical system.