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MAX update: United lodges new order, China moves on recertification

written by Hannah Dowling | March 2, 2021

A file image of a United Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 9. (Wikimedia Commons/Konstantin von Wedelstaedt).

United Airlines has announced the order of 25 new Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, and moved up the delivery of existing orders, in a win for beleaguered planemaker Boeing.

The airline has placed the new order for delivery of 25 of the fuel-efficient MAX jets in 2023, banking on steadily increasing demand for air travel, particularly on domestic US routes.

Meanwhile, the airline stated it had moved up the delivery of 40 previously purchased MAX jets to 2022, and five to 2023, in order to replace older jets in its fleet.

“With a number of our aircraft nearing the end of their life cycle and the growth opportunities that we know will exist in the COVID-19 recovery period, this agreement will help us to grow as demand returns,” United chief commercial officer Andrew Nocella said.

In all, the airline will welcome 94 new aircraft to its fleet between 2022 and 2023, and has a total order of 188 MAX jets.

China making moves on MAX recertification

Meanwhile, after months of staying quiet on the matter, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has said it is still working towards conducting its own independent safety flight tests on the newly-upgraded MAX, and that its safety concerns must be “properly addressed” before proceeding to the testing stage.

According to CAAC vice head Dong Zhiyi, the body has conducted its own in-depth investigation into the failings of the 737 MAX, and has been working with Boeing and Federal Aviation Administration to address its concerns.


The CAAC has said that to return the jet to service, it required certified design changes, proper training for the pilots and specific findings into the crashes.

“We’ll conduct flight tests in a planned and step-by-step way once our major safety concerns are properly addressed,” Dong said.

China was among the first jurisdictions to ground the 737 MAX following the second of two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019.

China was previously a major market for the MAX, with more MAX jets operating there than anywhere else in the world. China reportedly makes up about a quarter of MAX sales.

Regulators in the US, UK, Europe, Canada and Brazil have all previously lifted their flight bans on the MAX, in light of the almost two-year recertification process undergone by Boeing and the FAA, which included necessary design updates to software in the aircraft, additional sensors and emergency warnings, and further training for pilots.

Australia became the latest country to lift its ban on the MAX this week.

Families of victims continue to demand personal accountability

Yesterday, World of Aviation reported that the relatives of the victims killed in the second fatal MAX crash had again demanded that top Boeing executives, including the current and former CEOs, testify in front of a Chicago federal court.

In a filing to the court, the families of the victims of Ethiopia Airlines flight 302 have again requested that the court hear testimony from top executives, including current CEO Dave Calhoun and his predecessor Dennis Muilenburg, among other Boeing staff who worked at the company at the time of the crash.

The lawyers representing the plaintiffs are reportedly pushing to discover what Boeing knew about the causes of the first MAX crash, which occurred in October 2018, and why the plane was allowed to continue to fly.

Separately, the Ethiopian crash victims’ relatives have also urged US lawmakers to make available internal emails and documents from the Federal Aviation Administration from the time between the first and second crash, and stated that “there is serious unfinished business” with the matter.

The families wish to better understand what the FAA knew about the first crash prior to the second.


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