LARA editor Glenn Sands provides a summary of the latest happenings across the low-fare airline and regional aviation industry.
Icelandair is currently reviewing the long-term needs of its fleet and one option it is considering is switching to an all Airbus fleet. This announcement must certainly have pricked the ears of Boeing executives in Chicago.
The Icelandic carrier was quick to state that the review process was underway before the worldwide grounding of the MAX fleet. But I’m sure similar questions and analyses are being performed in the boardrooms of several regional and LCC operators.
On one hand there’s the question of loyalty and remaining with Boeing while the company resolves its current crisis, but how long can cost-conscious smaller airlines wait?
No doubt, once the FAA clears the fixes that Boeing has presented to the administration, the CAA, EASA and ICAO will quickly follow suit. But we’re not likely to see a sudden flood of 737 MAX aircraft in the air the next day.
Many of these aircraft have been on the ground for weeks and will have to receive the necessary software upgrade. Pilots will undergo the additional training syllabus to manage the improved MCAS system, too. It’s not a quick fix. The backlog of tasks to complete before we’re likely to see the MAX back in widespread service may take up to three months, according to some commercial aviation analysts.
So, it could well be the summer or autumn of 2020 before things get back to normal for the regional and LCCs who depend on the 737 MAX as the backbone of their fleet.
As if this was not bad enough, the goal for electric flight has suffered a further blow. An all-electric, two-seat trainer aircraft, an Alpha Electro, crash-landed into a lake in Norway last week, due to a sudden loss of power. Luckily, both pilots survived but before there’s any chance of a larger passenger aircraft coming into regular service, safe electric flight needs to be achieved in smaller private training aircraft.
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