Boeing 737 MAX deliveries delayed by software issues: report

Boeing is reportedly having to deal with a software issue on the 737 MAX and 787, relating to undelivered aircraft that are changing customers
Thiago B Trevisan /

Some Boeing 737 MAX deliveries might be delayed by up to a year, as a new software issue has presented a challenge for the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). 

A recent joint report by Leeham News and Airfinance Journal highlighted a problem with Boeing’s Option Selection Software (OSS). The software is used to reconfigure the computer programs present on one aircraft if it is transferred to another airline than initially intended, as cockpit displays and associated systems might have to be reconfigured. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) views this as a safety issue, continued the report. However, aircraft that are already operating with airlines are not affected by this problem.

Furthermore, the Boeing 787 is reportedly suffering the same software-related complication.

Boeing has quite a few undelivered 737 MAX aircraft, especially those that were destined to China-based airlines. According to data, there are 199 aircraft of the type that are undelivered to customers across the globe. Some of the frames had their first flights as recently as March 5, 2023, while some like Shenzhen Airlines-destined B-208J first flew on January 11, 2019. 

China was one of the first countries to ground the 737 MAX following the second fatal crash of the type in Ethiopia in March 2019. The previous accident, which happened when a Lion Air Boeing 737 MAX crashed in Indonesia, happened in October 2018. In total, the two accidents claimed the lives of 346 people. 

Chinese-based carriers have been slowly returning their 737 MAXs to service throughout 2023, with China Southern Airlines becoming the first airline to return the type to commercial service in January 2023. The latest was Air China, which returned the type to service on February 28, 2023. 

According to data, there are currently 12 737 MAXs operating in China with four different airlines, excluding Air China. The airlines are namely China Southern, Fuzhou Airlines, Hainan Airlines, and Lucky Air. 

“We have more airplanes on the tarmac in China to bring back into service just as we did here in the US before we began any deliveries of any sort and I’m not going to guess going forward when deliveries may or may not start,” stated David Calhoun, the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Boeing, during the company’s Q4 2022 financial results earnings call. 

“We ended the year with 250 MAX airplanes in inventory, 30 of which were -7 and -10s and we had 138 for customers in China,” added Brian West, the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) and Executive Vice President of the Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM). 

“The FAA doesn’t discuss ongoing certification issues,” said an FAA spokesperson in a statement to AeroTime.

AeroTime approached Boeing for comment.

UPDATE March 6, 2023, 1:45 PM (UTC +3): The article was updated with a statement from the FAA.

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