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American Airlines Takes Delivery of First 737 MAX Since Grounding
American Airlines has taken its first Boeing 737 MAX delivery since the type’s worldwide grounding in March 2019. The aircraft, registered N323SG, is the 25th 737 MAX in American’s fleet out of an order for 100 planes.
The aircraft was flown from Boeing Field in Washington to American’s maintenance facility in Tulsa, Okla. – where American has a maintenance hub – on Thursday, just a few days after finishing its final test flights.
This particular 737 MAX took its maiden flight back in May 2019, just after the nationwide grounding of the type took effect, but it wasn’t delivered due to complications of the grounding. The aircraft likely needed to run additional test flights, or at least participate in extra maintenance, after sitting idle for nearly 18 months.
American stored 14 MAX planes in Tulsa and an additional 10 at Roswell International Air Center in New Mexico. The airline ran regular maintenance on all the planes to keep them ready to fly at a moment’s notice – largely because Boeing’s return-to-service projections were constantly pushed back throughout 2019 and 2020 – which has allowed it to bring the type back into service relatively quickly.
American’s Dec. 29 first flight will be just over a month after the MAX was officially approved again by the FAA, while other carriers are planning to take well into 2021 to bring their own planes back.
American is currently running preparation flights, including so-called “flights to nowhere” for employees and media as well as passenger aircraft tours, leading up to its first revenue MAX service. Brazilian Airline GOL became the world’s first airline to resume regular MAX services earlier this week.
American isn’t the only airline to resume MAX deliveries. Earlier this week, on Tuesday, United Airlines was the first carrier to take delivery of a MAX since the type was re-certified.
“Nothing is more important to United than the safety of our customers and employees, and as we begin receiving 737 MAX deliveries from Boeing, we will inspect every aircraft, require our pilots to undergo additional training reviewed and approved by the FAA, and conduct test flights before we bring these aircraft back into service,” United said in a statement at the time.
United plans to resume MAX services in the first quarter of 2021. It had 14 MAX planes in its fleet at the time of the grounding.
Southwest Airlines expects to resume MAX flights in spring 2021.
Boeing currently has roughly 450 completed MAX jets to deliver, half of which the manufacturer says it can deliver by the end of 2021. But some might not be delivered until 2022 or even 2023 depending on other recertifications around the world and order deferments caused either by the grounding or the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
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