Here is Boeing’s plan to get grounded jets back in the air
Boeing said on Nov. 11, 2019, that it expected to resume delivering 737 Max jets in December, before the plane is approved to fly passengers again.
Boeing is working to get a fix to the troubled plane — as well as a pilot-training requirement — certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. The plane maker is looking to have pilots start delivering jets to airline customers after the plane's main certification is complete but before that training is finalized, The Wall Street Journal reported.
Boeing has faced increasing pressure as it halted deliveries while production continued. Though in April 2019 it cut its production rate to 42 planes per month from 52, it has had difficulty finding places to store the completed but undeliverable planes.
Resuming deliveries would also help Boeing weather mounting financial pressure. The company has sold only a handful of Max jets since Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed in March 2019, and it's concerned because of dwindling wide-body orders partly stemming from the Trump administration's trade war with China.
Though Boeing has maintained since the summer that it would be able to get the Max flying again by the fourth quarter, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines recently pulled the plane from their schedules until early March 2020.
Despite several recent setbacks, including being required to resubmit documentation outlining changes to the Max's flight computer, Boeing last week cleared a step in the certification process following a series of successful simulator tests with the FAA, The Journal reported.
However, even if the plane is certified by the end of 2019, the pilot training isn't expected to be approved until several weeks later, following a public comment period, The Journal reported. Until the training is approved and implemented, airlines would not be allowed to use the planes to carry passengers.
Even so, airlines are anxious to resume deliveries. Operators will need to service the stored planes and inspect jets before returning them to service. By beginning deliveries before the training is approved, Boeing and airlines would have some extra time to get the planes ready.
Boeing's stock was trading about 5% higher on Nov. 11, 2019, following the announcement.
Boeing has been preparing to aggressively deliver jets, recruiting recently retired aircraft technicians to help prepare stored planes for delivery flights, an initiative first reported by Business Insider.
The 737 Max, the latest version of Boeing's best-selling plane, has been grounded since March 2019 after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people.
Investigations into the two crashes suggest that an automated system called MCAS, or the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, erroneously engaged, forcing the planes' noses to point down, and that pilots were unable to regain control of the aircraft.
The system could be activated by a single sensor reading. In both crashes, the sensors are thought to have failed, sending erroneous data to the flight computer and, without a redundant check in place, triggering the automated system.
MCAS was designed to compensate for the 737 Max having larger engines than previous 737 generations. The larger engines could cause the plane's nose to tip upward, leading to a stall — in that situation, the system could automatically point the nose down to negate the effect of the engine size.
This article originally appeared on Business Insider. Follow @BusinessInsider on Twitter.