Home / News / World /  Boeing makes first 737 MAX delivery since lifting of FAA ban

Boeing Co. has delivered a 737 MAX to United Airlines Holdings Inc., the first carrier to receive a newly produced model of the jet after U.S. regulators ended a nearly two-year grounding last month.

A United crew took possession of a MAX on Tuesday, according to a spokesman for the carrier. It was the first of eight finished MAX planes expected to be delivered to United by end of the year.

The United spokesman said the airline would inspect and test-fly each MAX before reintroducing the aircraft back into passenger service in the first quarter of next year. Pilots also would have to undergo new training approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.

The resumption of MAX deliveries is crucial to Boeing’s effort to stop bleeding cash by the end of next year or early 2022. The world-wide grounding since March 2019 has left Boeing unable to hand over finished MAX aircraft to customers who pay much of the sales price upon receipt.

The manufacturer had sought to resume deliveries late last year before regulators approved fixes to the aircraft’s flight-control system and related pilot training. The push ultimately faltered.

The FAA lifted its MAX flight ban on Nov. 18 after it approved safety fixes, including new software changes affecting the flight-control system at the center of the two crashes that claimed the lives of 346 people. Brazilian regulators have followed suit, and other countries are expected to do the same in coming months.

Before the FAA’s ungrounding, Boeing had planned to deliver about two dozen MAX planes by the end of the year, people briefed on the matter said. Two other airlines, American Airlines Group Inc. and Southwest Airlines Co., are expected to take delivery of new aircraft this month. People familiar with Boeing’s delivery schedule have said plans are fluid.

Boeing said it has built around 450 jets that it has been unable to deliver during the grounding. It halted production for a while earlier this year to limit the buildup and has restarted assembly.

Output has since resumed, but the manufacturer’s ability to move existing inventory will determine its production rates. The Covid-19 pandemic has for now sapped airline demand for the jets, complicating Boeing’s ability to deliver the planes as customers cancel or defer their orders.

Last week, Boeing notched its first big MAX order of the year. European discount airline Ryanair Holdings PLC said it would buy an additional 75 jets and accelerate its delivery schedule.

Analysts forecast Boeing will deliver around 180 MAX jets in 2021, including 50 for Ryanair.

The plane maker has been striking deals with MAX customers that include compensation as well as reducing and deferring MAX deliveries, including the follow-on order announced last week by Ryanair.

Boeing, in its monthly update Tuesday, said it delivered only seven jets of all types in November, with no MAX or 787 Dreamliners handed over, taking its year-to-date total to 118. It announced cancellations for another 63 MAX jets, including a near-halving of the order from Virgin Australia Holdings Ltd. to 25 from 48.

Brazil’s GOL Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA said it plans to become the first airline to return the MAX to passenger service with flights starting Dec. 9. The carrier aims to have its seven-strong MAX fleet flying this month, and has 95 more on order after restructuring its deal with Boeing.

This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text.

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