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Boeing’s 737 Max is Being Readied for a Comeback. What Travelers Need to Know.

  • July 05, 2020

The agency said in a statement that it “will lift the grounding order only after we are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards.”

Boeing’s chief executive, David Calhoun, flew on the plane in February. The head of the F.A.A. and longtime Delta pilot, Stephen M. Dickson, told a Senate committee that he would fly the Max himself and must be satisfied that he would put his family aboard before he would lift the grounding order.

Industry experts said that it could still take several months before the agency and its counterparts in Europe, Canada and Brazil give the green light to certify the Max — possibly as late as 2021. All told, this likely means that the Max won’t return to service until this fall at the earliest.

Here’s what travelers who might be contemplating flying again around that time need to know.

The airlines need to ready the planes and their pilots, and the F.A.A. needs to approve a new training regime for pilots.

The grounded planes are parked at airplane storage facilities around the United States. They undergo periodic maintenance even while grounded. When the F.A.A. provides its approval, an airline’s maintenance teams and pilots will fly the aircraft (with no passengers on board) to airline maintenance facilities, said R. Eric Jones, an associate professor of Aviation Maintenance Sciences at Embry Riddle Aeronautical University and an experienced airline maintenance lead. There, the aircraft will undergo extensive evaluations and maintenance of systems, including hydraulics and avionics, and of the wings and landing gear. “Assuming no anomalies are found, it could take as little as two weeks to a month to return a parked Max to operational service,” Professor Jones said.

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