The Boeing 737 MAX will not enter commercial service sooner than the second quarter of 2021, airline CEO Gary Kelly said. Yesterday, U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) re-certified the aircraft. But, says Kelly, there is much work to be done before the MAX aircraft will resume service at Southwest.
Before the airline returns the aircraft to commercial service, every active pilot will complete additional FAA-required flight training in one of their nine 737 MAX simulators and will complete additional FAA-required computer-based training covering MAX procedures.
Southwest will also require active pilots to re-take the airline’s original 737 MAX 8 computer-based differences training as a refresher to complement the FAA-required training. Additionally, Southwest will conduct multiple readiness flights on each of their 34 MAX aircraft and complete thousands of hours of work, inspections, and the software updates before any passenger boards a Southwest 737 MAX.
Boeing made changes to the flight control system that now compares input from two angle of attack sensors as opposed to one; the aircraft only responds if data from both sensors agree and only activates once per event; and pilots always have the ability to override the aircraft’s input.
These changes have been reviewed and approved by the FAA, and, with these enhancements, Kelly is confident that Southwest Airlines is ready to operate the MAX in accordance with the FAA’s requirements.
“I am going to be flying on the MAX before we return the aircraft to service—and the same is true for many other Southwest leaders,” he added.