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FAA Is Set To Let 737 MAX Fly Again, But Airlines Won’t Be Ready For A While

In what arguably has become the photo most symbolic of the global grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX, … [+] nearly two dozen MAX 8s belonging to Southwest Airlines have been grounded, like all 600+ MAX planes in the world, since March 2019. (MARK RALSTON/Getty Images)

AFP/Getty Images

The media is awash with reports that the troubled and long-grounded Boeing BA 737 MAX is about to be recertified to fly, perhaps as soon as today. But don’t expect to fly on one Thursday, or next week … or likely even next month.

At the very least it will take several weeks – and more likely a month or more – for the most aggressive airline to get a couple or three MAXs modified to the new standards the Federal Aviation Administration will require, to get enough of their pilots retrained to fly a few MAXs as part of the carrier’s regular schedule, and to get their unionized pilots’ and flight attendants’ work schedules altered enough so that a few MAXs can be properly staffed without violating their labor contracts.

In fact, Southwest Airlines LUV , the world’s largest operator of 737s of any variety and the launch customer of the controversial MAX version, isn’t likely to begin flying any of its MAXs again until sometime this spring. That’s what Southwest CEO Gary Kelly said during an interview with the trade publication Aviation Week & Space Technology, streamed live Monday.

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