A former S7 Airlines Boeing 737 MAX was spotted bearing Qatar Airways tail and winglet designs, suggesting that the aircraft could be going to the Qatari carrier rather than the Siberia, Russia-based airline.
The Boeing 737 MAX-8, registered N5573K, was spotted at Portland International Airport (PDX), the United States (US), where the manufacturer’s painting facilities are located.
Curiously, though, Qatar Airways has not ordered the 737 MAX-8. In July 2022, the manufacturer and the Doha, Qatar-based airline finalized an order for 25 737 MAX-10, the largest type of the MAX aircraft family. Prior to that, Boeing’s Orders & Deliveries data shows an order for five 737 MAX narrowbody jets in December 2016.
Boeing has used the N5573K registration as a temporary number used for flight testing since October 1978, according to the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA) aircraft inquiry data.
Not among Boeing Orders & Deliveries data
In October 2016, Qatar Airways announced that it had signed an agreement with Boeing to purchase 30 787-9 and 10 777-300ERs. The deal included a Letter of Intent (LoI) for 60 737 MAX-8.
However, in June 2017 Akbar Al Baker, the Chief Executive of Qatar Airways, stated that the airline would not operate the 737 MAX because the aircraft would be “to cater for investment in other airlines”.
In its latest financial report for FY2021/2022, which ended on March 31, 2022, the Qatari carrier disclosed that it had “assessed specific impairment of its fleet of A380s, A330s, and B737 Max aircraft that were not likely to be used in operation”. Boeing has not delivered a single 737 to the airline since its inception. In 1994, the carrier briefly operated a Boeing 737-200, according to planespotters.net data.
As of March 31, 2022, Qatar Airways has investments in the International Airlines Group (25.1%), the parent company of Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, etc., Cathay Pacific (9.99%), LATAM Airlines (10%), and China Southern Airlines (3.62%).
But the ex-S7 Airlines Boeing 737 MAX-8 has been the second aircraft of the type to catch the attention of the planespotting community in the past few weeks. Previously, another 737 MAX-8, in an all-white fuselage and Qatar Airways’ tail and winglet colors, was spotted at Boeing Field (King County International Airport, BFI), in Seattle, Washington, the US.
Regulatory troubles for the 737 MAX-7 and MAX-10
While the 737 MAX-8 and MAX-9 were cleared to fly once again following the grounding of the type, the 737 MAX-7 and the MAX-10 did not share the same fortune.
Boeing has attempted to gain certification of the two types, but failed to do so before the Aircraft Certification, Safety and Accountability Act (ACSAA) came into effect in the US on December 27, 2022. The law passed the US House of Representatives in November 2020, as the country’s lawmakers looked to address regulatory shortfalls that potentially contributed to two fatal Boeing 737 MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.
The crashes claimed the lives of 346 people. During both accidents, the infamous Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) was activated by the aircraft’s onboard computer erroneously, causing the pilots to lose control of the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines aircraft. Investigators highlighted several other contributing factors, including maintenance-related problems with the Lion Air 737 MAX and Foreign Object Damage (FOD) in the case of the Ethiopian Airlines accident.
ACSAA aims to address shortfalls with the 737 MAX’s flight crew alerting system and include displays that will showcase the differences between warnings, cautions, and advisories, and include features to help pilots distinguish which corrective actions to prioritize first. At the same time, Boeing will have to retrofit upgrades to the Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System (EICAS) on all 737 MAX aircraft, including the already certified -8 and -9.
Per the manufacturer’s Q4 2022 earnings call, David Calhoun, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and President of Boeing, revealed that the planemaker expects to deliver the first MAX-7 in 2023 and the first 737 MAX-10 in 2024.
AeroTime approached Boeing and Qatar Airways for comment.