Boeing Co.’s 737 MAX planes are unlikely to be ready to carry passengers again until 2020 because of the time it will take to fix flight-control software and complete other steps, an increasing number of government and industry officials say, even as the company strives to get its jet back into service this year.
The situation remains fluid, no firm timeline has been established and Boeing still has to satisfy U.S. regulators that it has answered all outstanding safety questions. But under the latest scenario, the global MAX fleet is now anticipated to return to the air in January 2020, a full 12 months after the plane maker proposed its initial replacement of software eventually implicated in a pair of fatal crashes—one in October and one in March—according to some Federal Aviation Administration officials and pilot-union leaders.
The process of developing and certifying revised software and pilot-training changes has been repeatedly delayed, with airlines scrambling to cope with slips month after month.
When this is juxtaposed with what appears evidence that Boeing will be forced to rename the airliner:
A Boeing 737 Max due to be delivered to Ryanair has had the name Max dropped from the livery, further fuelling speculation that the manufacturer and airlines will seek to rebrand the troubled plane once it is given the all clear to fly again.
Photos have emerged of a 737 Max in Ryanair colours outside Boeing’s manufacturing hub, with the designation 737-8200 – instead of 737 Max – on the nose. The 737-8200 is a type name for the aircraft that is used by aviation agencies.
It needs to be noted that these problems are absolutely self-generated by Boeing.
If Boeing hadn’t spent most of its money on stock buybacks, it would have money for a full development program for a successor to the 737.