Changes to the 737 MAX / Return to Service

How are the airplanes being prepared?

How is the FAA involved in the process?
U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) requirements set out a careful and documented process that defines how airplanes are to be removed from storage and reactivated, what work is performed on them, and how they must be inspected and approved prior to returning to commercial service. These are the same for every airplane within its jurisdiction, regardless of whether the airplane is at Boeing or at an airline.

How long does the process take?
Safety is the most important priority, so each part of the process will be given the time needed for it to be accurately completed and fully documented to FAA standards.

Is this the same process that other countries will use?
FAA actions only apply to airlines under its jurisdiction, including those in the U.S. While the FAA’s processes do inform other civil aviation authorities, we continue to work with these regulators as they take their own actions to return the airplane to service for their air carriers.

When will U.S. airlines begin flying the 737-8 or 737-9?
Each customer will be setting its own schedule.

What’s required to take the airplane out of storage?
When each airplane was stored, it went through a comprehensive multi-day process designed to preserve the airplane and its engines and systems while not in use. Now that the order has been lifted, the process has to be reversed before the airplane can be reactivated.

What work is going to be performed on each airplane?
Once the airplane is reactivated, all of the changes mandated by the FAA will be completed and thoroughly documented. This will include updates to MCAS, additional software updates, and modifying some wiring to meet FAA requirements.

What does inspecting the airplanes entail?

The FAA defined the comprehensive processes that will be used to inspect and approve each and every airplane before it can return to commercial service.

What will happen with the undelivered airplanes that are still at Boeing?
Every airplane will go through Boeing’s comprehensive protocol for delivery of a new airplane. This includes flight-critical ground testing, test flights by Boeing and the customer, and a detailed customer inspection. The FAA will perform in-person, individual reviews of each new airplane prior to issuing its airworthiness certificate.

What will happen with the airplanes that were delivered to customers?
Airplanes that are already part of a customer fleet have their own FAA processes and checkpoints. These include showing the FAA documentation of all of the performed changes and completion of an operational readiness flight.

How are you supporting the airlines?

We support our customers every day for every Boeing airplane they fly.

What kind of support did you provide while 737 operations were suspended?
Our support for customers flying the 737-8 and 737-9 never stopped. We continued to work with each of them to resolve any challenges or questions as they arose. To keep all of our customers informed about the latest developments in process and status, we also set up an information-sharing program, where we would provide a full update every week. We also conducted monthly collaborative work sessions with our global community of airline partners.

As the airplanes began to transition into long-term storage, we set up a proactive approach where we regularly visually inspected every one of the stored airplanes, regardless of its location around the world. Our inspector would document their findings and share it with the airline and the larger community of partner airlines.

Whenever an airline had to ferry a stored airplane to another location, we worked alongside their team to remove the airplane from storage, reactivate it and monitor all of its systems while in-flight. Ultimately, more than 400 flights were conducted, generating invaluable data about the process and performance of the reactivated airplane.

What kind of support will you provide now that the order is lifted?
There are three fundamental areas of support.

24/7 dedicated operations center
We are staffing a cross-functional team that represents all of the engineering and technical areas involved with the airplane. The team will work around the clock, providing real-time solutions to any challenges a customer may face as they work to return an airplane to service and provide real-time monitoring of all 737-8 and 737-9 airplanes in flight.

Onsite support
We are expanding our existing field-service teams with additional staff that can be deployed to help an airline complete and document every step of the comprehensive FAA-mandated process: from removing the airplanes from storage and reactivating them, to performing the FAA-mandated changes and completing final inspection.

Global parts support
We have identified the specific parts that the airlines might require when reactivating the airplane. We have increased our stock accordingly and are deploying the parts in advance to our regional distribution centers around the world so that they will be nearby if needed.