Korean Air is ready to start operations with the Boeing MAX 8 from March 1, it has reported on February 14. The airline has taken delivery of the first aircraft on February 13. Korean Air prepares for MAX entry into service.
The aircraft, registered HL-8348, departed Seattle on February 11 and stayed overnight in Anchorage, before departing for Tokyo on the 12th. Here too, the crew spent an extra night. The MAX 8 touched down at Incheon International Airport at 2.58 pm local time on February 13.
Korean announced a Memorandum of Understanding for thirty MAX 8s plus twenty options at the 2015 Paris Airshow. This was confirmed on November 5 that same year. Before deliveries were set to commence, the MAX was grounded after the two fatal crashes in October 2018 and March 2019. While the US and Brazil lifted the ban on the MAX in November 2020, the South Korean regulatory agency waited only until November 22, 2021, to re-certify the type. This includes numerous hardware and software changes as well as the training of pilots and maintenance crews.
Korean Air says in a media statement that it will now start standard operational procedures such as airworthiness tests before entering this first MAX 8 into service. It thinks it needs some two weeks to complete the tests and have the aircraft ready on March 1. Another five aircraft will be delivered later this year.
Ministry will keep an eye on MAX operations
Although the MAX has been operating reliably and safely since the lifting of the ban, the South Korean Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, and Transport will continue to monitor the type. It plans “to carry out special management for the safe operation of 737-8 aircraft by providing full support to Korean Air and other airlines operating the 737-8 in the future such as through participating in simulator training, reviewing observations, and engaging in test flights.”
Just before the grounding, Korean low-cost airline Eastar Jet took delivery of two MAX 8s in December 2018. They were in service until March 12, 2019, when the type was grounded after the fatal crash of Ethiopian ET302. After the airline went into restructuring in 2020, the two MAX that are leased from Minsheng Financial Leasing have been parked. They are currently in storage in Victorville near Los Angeles as Eastar waits to get its Airline Operator Certificate renewed.
In November 2018, low-cost airline Jeju Air placed an order for forty MAX 8s plus ten options, of which none have been delivered. Boeing said in January that it has 335 MAX aircraft in its inventory, of which 73 for Chinese airlines. At the same time, it is building new MAX at a rate of 26 per month.
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016.
In 2022, he has gone full-time freelance. Richard has been contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He is also writing for Airliner World and Aviation News and until July 1 2023 in a part-time role with Dutch website and magazine Luchtvaartnieuws. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.