Aviation

Boeing breaks deadlock on 737 MAX orders, as Joyce affirms confidence in jet’s return

Christian Fleetwood

Christian Fleetwood

The Boeing Company has recorded its first 737 MAX sale in months, with a jet ordered by an unknown VIP customer.

Boeing has broken a four-month orders drought for the 737 MAX, after recording an order for a business-jet version of the best-selling model on 11 September.

The order – made by an anonymous customer – marks the first sale of the model since June, when British Airways owner International Consolidated Airlines Group announced it intended to buy 200 of them. But the agreement, which would put the group among the largest 737 MAX customers in the world, has not yet been converted to a firm order, according to multiple reports.

Through to September 2019, 4,930 737 MAX jets have been ordered (387 delivered and 4,543 unfilled), based on firm contractual commitments, Boeing reports.

In March, all models of the 737 MAX were grounded globally after two separate fatal accidents involving the 737 MAX 8 saw a combined 346 people killed. Boeing has been pursuing approval and re-certification of the model since.

Speaking at the annual dinner of business lobby group Dublin Chamber on Thursday, Qantas CEO Alan Joyce affirmed his confidence in Boeing.

“I think Boeing are a fantastic engineering company, they will fix this issue,” Joyce told The Irish Times.

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Qantas does not have an order for any of the model, currently, but will next year be looking to place an order for 75 aircraft with either Boeing or Airbus, Joyce told the news outlet.

American Airlines on Wednesday announced it expects the MAX to return to service on 16 January. The airline expects to slowly phase the model into commercial service and increase flying through the month into February, the airline said in a statement.

Boeing is seeking approval for the return to service of the 737 MAX with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), after it was grounded in March following two fatal crashes involving the jet.

American Airlines fleet of airplanes at O'Hare Airport
American Airlines currently has an order for 100 737 MAX jets, based on Boeing figures through September 2019.

“American Airlines anticipates that the impending software updates to the Boeing 737 MAX will lead to recertification of the aircraft later this year and resumption of commercial service in January 2020,” the airline said.

“We are in continuous contact with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Department of Transportation (DOT).”

Boeing is currently working to have a completed software update to its implicated Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) approved by the aviation authority.

The system has been linked to the crash of both Lion Air Flight 610, which killed 189 passengers and crew, and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, which killed 157 passengers and crew.

The software was originally designed and certified for the 737 MAX to enhance the pitch stability of the aeroplane, Boeing said.

Virgin Australia is the only Australian carrier with an order for the jet, at 40 unfilled orders. While US-based carrier Southwest has the most of any identified customer, with 280 ordered (31 delivered and 249 unfilled), followed by fldubai (251 ordered).

In April, over a month after the international grounding of the 737 MAX, Virgin announced a restructure of its deal with Boeing for the jets. Virgin also deferred the first round of deliveries for them from 2019 to 2021.


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