MIAMI — Boeing has, once again, pushed back the potential re-entry into service of its ill-fated 737 MAX aircraft to mid-2020, surpassing the one-year mark since the airplane was grounded worldwide.
“This updated estimate is informed by our experience to date with the certification process,” said the North American planemaker in a public statement released on Tuesday.
The Boeing 737 MAX was the company’s best-selling single-aisle jet, accumulating a backlog of more than 4,000 planes.
Following these updates, US President Donald Trump called Boeing “a very disappointing company” during an interview with CNBC. “This is one of the greatest companies of the world, let’s say, as of a year ago, and all of a sudden things happened,” said Trump.
The President’s remarks over Boeing, the country’s largest exporter, and biggest defense contractor, represent a major blow to the planemaker. Trump urged Boeing to fix the 737 MAX quickly.
Boeing also stressed that “the FAA and other global regulators will determine when the 737 MAX returns to service,” indicating that as the manufacturer works around the several software and flight control issues that have doomed the aircraft program, the last word lies on the regulators.
“In order to help our customers and suppliers plan their operations, we periodically provide them with our best estimate of when regulators will begin to authorize the ungrounding of the 737 MAX,” said the manufacturer via a public statement.
The 737 MAX debacle continues to force airlines to push schedules past mid-2020. In the US alone, American Airlines (AA), Southwest Airlines (WN), and United Airlines (UA) announced further extensions on its 737 MAX timelines.
“Based on the latest guidance, American Airlines anticipates that the resumption of scheduled commercial service on American’s fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will occur June 4, 2020,” said the airline in yet another 737 MAX update.
“Once the aircraft is certified, American will run flights for American team members and invited guests.”
United also pushed its schedule until June 4 in early December.
Air Canada today announced that its 737 MAX has also been removed from its operating schedule until June 30, 2020.
“Air Canada is removing the Boeing 737 MAX from its operating schedule to provide customers certainty when planning and booking their travel,” said the airline.
“It will also allow the airline to manage its schedule and fleet most effectively as it awaits decisions by Canadian and international regulators on returning the 737 MAX safely into service,” added the Montreal-based carrier.
Air Canada grounded its fleet of 24 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in March 2019. “Final decisions on returning the 737 MAX to service will be based on Air Canada’s safety assessment following the lifting of government safety notices and requisite approvals by the FAA and Transport Canada,” said the airline.
The 737 MAX crisis has now forced Boeing to suspend the production of the planes in January, causing dramatic side effects to its domestic and international supply chain.
Spirit AeroSystems, responsible for making the plane’s fuselages, announced a reduction of at least 2,800 jobs. Likewise, General Electric, the engine maker for the 737 MAX program, has laid off 70 workers in Canada.
Boeing remarks that “returning the MAX safely to service is our number one priority, and we are confident that will happen.”
“We acknowledge and regret the continued difficulties that the grounding of the 737 MAX has presented to our customers, our regulators, our suppliers, and the flying public. We will provide additional information about our efforts to safely return the 737 MAX to service in connection with our quarterly financial disclosures next week,” concluded the plane manufacturer.