Boeing has published deliveries report of the first quarter of 2019, revealing that the last 737 MAX was delivered at the time when some countries were already grounding the aircraft. When it comes to orders, the date is further back.

How does the first quarter look for Boeing?

On April 9, 2019, Boeing reported deliveries across its commercial and defense operations for the first quarter of 2019. Keeping in mind that Boeing is caught up in a huge reputation crisis, results of the first quarter (January to March 2019) are not that bad as one would expect.

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During the quarter, the manufacturer has delivered 149 civilian aircraft. While it is evident that the deliveries rate has decreased, this is only 35 aircraft less than during the same months the previous year, as the U.S. manufacturer recorded 184 aircraft deliveries during 1Q, 2018.

However, the numbers look bleaker when compared to the previous three months. At the very end of 2018 (Q4, 2018), Boeing reported 238 deliveries, reaching a year’s total of 806.

Of the 149 commercial airliners delivered, there were two 747 freighters, 12 767s and ten 777s of both freighter and passenger configurations. As per usual, the biggest portion of aircraft deliveries, 89 in total, made up the 737s, including the newest and now-notorious 737 MAX version.

When it comes to orders, the manufacturer’s orderbook reveals that it landed 95 of them during the same period. They are divided among 787, 737, 777 and 767 models with 39, 32, 20, and 4 airplanes on order accordingly.

Interestly, Ethiopian flight 302 crash and consequential MAX groundings did not stop customers from purchasing other Boeing’s planes, and several orders in bulk are listed after March 13. These include Lufthansa’s order of 20 787-9s, followed by British Airways’ order of 18 new, upcoming 777X.

The last 737 MAX orders, in turn, were placed by unidentified customers in January 2019, with an exception of one business Jet/VIP customer who ordered one MAX jet the following month.

The last 737 MAX delivered during the groundings

In January - March 2019, Boeing has delivered 89 737s. Two-thirds of them, or 57 in particular, were the 737 MAX, leaving the remaining 32 split between the older-generation 737-900ER (13) and 737-800(A) (19).

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The biggest number of 737 MAX aircraft ‒ six each ‒ received Air Canada and TUI Travel. Turkish Airlines have taken deliveries of five 737 MAXs, all in February 2019.

The last 737 MAX delivered so far reached its customer, a leasing company, on March 11, 2019. At the time, certain countries around the world were already imposing grounding of the model, but the aircraft was still flying in the United States, among other countries, where authorities insisted it was safe.

Recap: how things got downhill for 737 MAX?

The 737 MAX safety began to be questioned after a MAX 8, belonging to Lion Air, crashed while carrying flight 610 on October 29, 2019. By November 2018, the first lawsuit had reached the U.S. court, claiming the MCAS flight control system on the MAX plane might have caused the accident.

While straight after the accident Boeing issued a safety bulletin for MAX operators, directing them to follow existing flight crew procedures to address AOA sensor malfunction. However, the same month, November 2018, news emerged that Boeing was considering a software upgrade for its 737 MAX family.

However, these concerns had affected only on a small portion of Boeing’s Q1 deliveries, because they reflect the months of January to March 2019. It was at the beginning of March that the real 737 MAX trouble began.

Less than five months since the fatal Lion Air flight 610, Ethiopian Airlines flight ET 302 met the same fate on March 10, 2019. The following day, the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) has ordered the country’s airlines to suspend Boeing 737 MAX 8 commercial operations, quoting a principle of “zero tolerance for safety hazards and strict control of safety risks” in its notice issued on March 11, 2019. In the following two days, China’s example was followed by countries all around the world, with the United States and Canada being the last countries to ground the 737 MAX on March 13, 2019.