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United Airlines Defers Boeing 737 MAX 9 Deliveries During FAA Safety Review

In addition to delivery delays, the safety review of United Airlines is further impacting its capacity growth plans during 2024.

United Airlines executives have confirmed that the airline has deferred some Boeing 737 MAX 9 deliveries as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) continues auditing the airline’s safety processes following a string of incidents. The airline has been in the news for all the wrong reasons of late, including regarding a runway excursion at Houston George Bush Intercontinental Airport (IAH).

Minimal capacity impact

Speaking during the airline’s Q1 2024 earnings call, Brett Hart, the President of United Airlines, said that, as mentioned by Scott Kirby, the chief executive officer (CEO) of the carrier, the airline has begun “an in-depth review of our processes and procedures” with the FAA. Hart added that these audits provided a chance for United Airlines to reaffirm its commitment to safety.

Nevertheless, the executive stated that deliveries will be delayed as the airline continues working with the regulator. As a result, United Airlines expected a “small number” of aircraft that were supposed to be delivered in Q2 2024 to be delayed. However, Hart said this would have a “minimal impact” on the airline’s planned capacity growth during the year.

  “I am confident that we will be able to successfully look back on this review process, resulting in an even better airline for our customers, employees, and shareholders.”

Fewer 737 MAX deliveries from Boeing

When United Airlines filed its 2023 results on February 28, it detailed that it had 159 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, split between 80 737 MAX 8 and 79 737 MAX 9, alongside four A321neos. As of April 16, its fleet grew to 166 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and seven A321neos.

At the end of 2023, the carrier said it expected to take delivery of 37 737 MAX 8, 19 737 MAX 9, and 25 A321neo aircraft in 2024. By April 16, following seven 737 MAX and three A321neo deliveries in Q1 2024, Boeing is now projected to deliver just 19 737 MAX 8 and ten 737 MAX 9 to United Airlines. On the Airbus side, the airline will take 22 A321neo aircraft through the year, just a couple short of the original target.

During the next quarter, United estimated that its Boeing 737 MAX fleet would grow by six aircraft, while its Airbus A321neo fleet would grow by five. The airline does not plan to take delivery of any other aircraft types during Q2 2024.

The numbers do not include contractual aircraft delivery schedules. However, some of these Boeing 737 MAX delivery delays are due to no fault of United Airlines. Boeing is also prevented from reaching its projected production targets amid scrutiny of its manufacturing processes.

A string of safety incidents

During the past few months, United Airlines has suffered numerous incidents that have seeped into mainstream media, prompting the FAA to look closer the airline and its processes. This included a runway excursion at IAH, where a Boeing 737 MAX 9 slid off the runway as it attempted to slow down for a turn onto the taxiway.

Other incidents during the year included stuck rudder pedals on a Boeing 737 MAX 8, an engine failure on a 737-900, a mid-flight panel loss on a 737-800, severe wing slat damage on a 757, hydraulic failure on an Airbus A320, and others.

This article originally appeared on Simple Flying

Image source: Angel DiBilio | Shutterstock

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