HOTR: Air India faces a host of problems as owners negotiate massive jet deal

By Bryan Corliss

Jan. 11, 2023, © Leeham News:

Air India – now owned by the Indian industrial giant Tata Sons – is reportedly close to placing what may end up being the largest commercial aircraft order in the industry’s history.

Air India image of a Boeing 787 in the airline’s livery.

The market is a key one for Boeing, especially right now, after it has been locked out of China because of geopolitical tensions. Air India, in particular, is said to be negotiating with Boeing to take up to 50 737s originally built for Chinese airlines, as part of a massive order that could total 500 planes. 

As LNA reported back in September, Boeing has about 140 737 MAXes ordered by Chinese airlines or leasing companies ordering on their behalf. That’s about 50% of the total number of built but undelivered MAXes Boeing had in storage going into last year’s fourth quarter.

It’s fortunate for Air India and Boeing both that the airline has a need for a lot of new aircraft at a time when Boeing needs to move a lot of planes, but adding new aircraft is just one of many major challenges Air India’s new owners face right now.


  • 2023 in India: Two airlines dominate
  • Air India may snap up Chinese whitetails 
  • Tata has a lot of work to do  

2023 in India: Two airlines dominate 

An IndiGo A320neo preparing for takeoff at Mumbai. (IndiGo photo)

Indian airlines are expected to take delivery of more than 100 commercial jets in the coming year, as continuing consolidation changes the airline market dynamics of what is soon to become the world’s most-populous country.

IndiGo remains the market leader. Flying primarily a fleet of Airbus A320s and A321s, it holds more than half of the domestic market, with ambitions to expand across Asia. 

The airline received regulatory approval to begin flights to Instanbul from Mumbai and New Dehli, using a pair of Boeing 777-300ERs wetleased from Turkish Airlines. The 777s will allow IndiGo to expand the number of seats it can offer on those routes. 

That’s only a start. IndiGo has placed orders for up to 69 A321XLRs, which it expects to take delivery on starting in 2024, and has discussed using them to fly Mumbai-to-London. 

Meanwhile, Tata Group is planning to consolidate its Indian airline ownership. As we reported last year, Tata took over Air India – the formerly government-owned flag carrier – in January 2022. Tata Group’s announced consolidation of Vistara – its joint venture with Singapore Airlines – into Air India gives the industrial conglomerate a solid No. 2 position in the India airline market with as much as 30% of the market, according to analysts at New Delhi-based AT-TV. (This includes AIX Connect, the rebranded AirAsia India, a low-cost carrier.)

That leaves SpiceJet Go First airline and Akasa to fight over the remaining 20% of the market with a handful of regional airlines and potentially other new entrants.

Air India may be eyeing Chinese whitetails 

Tata has ambitious plans for the merged airline, which includes the acquisition of up to 500 new aircraft in what could be the largest aircraft order in the industry’s history. 

This would be a massive increase to the size of the existing fleet. The three Tata-owned airlines currently operate a combined fleet of 195 planes – mostly a mix of A320s and 777s/787s. The fleet is relatively old; Air India was flying A320ceos until 2019.

Published reports say Tata is looking for 400 narrow-body jets and 100 widebodies. Reuters reported that Boeing was in talks to sell 190 MAXes and 30 787s, with the rest likely going to Airbus. 

If that’s the case, Airbus would come out the winner in the deal, snagging more than half of the order. Boeing would get to break Airbus’ near stranglehold on the single-aisle market in India, which might be something of a consolation prize.

If Tata’s goal is to quickly refurbish its aging fleet, then it makes to split the order. Airbus is nominally producing 50 A320s a month, while Boeing sits at 31 and both are seeing suppliers struggle to keep up at current rates. Going with one OEM would mean Air India would be waiting a good decade before it got the last of its 400 narrowbodies.

However, the benefits of a single fleet type are well-understood in the industry, and with all Tata has on its plate – namely shortages of pilots and ground staff, the challenge of melding Vistara into Air India – it could be easier for Tata to meet its personnel challenges if it doesn’t have to train workers on multiple aircraft types.

Yet while Tata execs go down to the wire with Boeing and Airbus on this massive order, they’re also struggling with complaints from flight officers and cabin crew over working conditions – and the fallout from a pair of appalling mid-flight incidents involving drunk male passengers who, allegedly, had been grossly over-served by Air India cabin crew. 

Tata has a lot of work to do at Air India

Google “Air India” today and you’ll most likely find links to stories about how a drunk passenger urinated on a 72-year-old woman sitting near him in business class on a flight from New York to New Delhi on Nov. 27 – and how the flight crew, after giving the older woman clean pajamas to wear and putting towels on her urine-soaked seat, ordered her to go back and sit next to the man, while other passengers protested that she should be allowed to sit in an empty first class seat. (She eventually was allowed to move to a seat in the crew rest area – but only after being forced into a face-to-face meeting with the man, according to one passenger on the flight who has been particularly vocal about the incident.)

The incident, apparently, was not reported to authorities when the plane touched down. Air India eventually issued a refund for the woman’s ticket and finally reported the incident to police on Dec. 28 – a month after it happened – after four meetings with the victim and her family.

The incident and Air India’s response ignited a social media firestorm within India. The alleged perpetrator last week was fired from his job as vice president at a global bank, then arrested.

Air India said last week that it had grounded a pilot and four cabin crew members and was investigating changes in its policies and procedures involving alcohol service and in-flight passenger complaints.

Remarkably, it’s not the only such situation for Air India this winter. In December, another drunk male passenger on a flight from Paris to New Delhi allegedly urinated on an empty seat and on a female passenger’s blanket while she was using a lavatory. In this case, the cabin crew reportedly isolated the drunk male passenger, who was met by airport police on landing. The victim, however, declined to press charges, so the man was released.

Air India still is in hot water, however, because it allegedly failed to notify national regulatory authorities of this second incident.

Tata Group has its work cut out for it as it tries to rebuild the culture of Air India. Spending tens of billions of dollars on new aircraft may be the easiest part of it.

120 Comments on “HOTR: Air India faces a host of problems as owners negotiate massive jet deal

  1. Just flew on AI ORD-DEL in their J-Class B77W last week. Hard product definitely needs attention as both seats and entertainment system are outdated however I found their soft product to be great. Flying directly over Moscow (and I mean directly) was weird given the current global environment. It was also strange to see AI fly directly over Islamabad, Pakistan as well. Regardless, flying over Russia certainly does give AI an advantage over US carriers and it seems AI is taking advantage of it.

    Also flew DEL-PAT on AI’s A319. That was a bit dated as well. Again, service was great for a 70 minute flight.

    On a side note, while it’s improved over the years, connecting at Delhi Airport is quite tedious as well. They need to improve that if they want to compete on a global level.

    • Perhaps it’s time to be fair to US and Canadian airlines to stop Air India from having an advantage by flying over Russia.
      It’s easy to do, just ban flights overflying Russia from Canadian airspace.
      However with Canada having a weak PM at this time it’s doubtful he will level the playing field.

      • ICAO rules prevent that sort of extra territorial nonsense. Your airspace and your airlines are within your jurisdiction.
        Maybe US rules which prevent foreign part/full ownership of US carriers are ‘unfair’ to other countries and need some restrictions on US carriers to force the changes. It would be unthinkable wouldnt it.

      • It’s the us which has banned its airlines to fly over Russia, so what the heck u talking about level playing field.. u Americans want it both ends…

      • Are you prepared for India to ban all flights from US and Canada? If you want to fight a war with Russia, do it yourself. Don’t expect proxies like Ukraine or rest of the world.

  2. Not to be nitty gritty. The first picture shows an 787 not A320. Anyway good read. I would comment that the order split is primarily dominated by OEM slot availability (driven by rate). The A320 Family line is effectively sold out until 2029

  3. “Air India image of an A320 in the airline’s livery.”
    You might want to change either the image or the subtitle, as the image currently shows a 787. 🙂

    • No, its time for governments to put stiffer penalties on both out of control passengers and penalties for airlines that do not report them.

      No single airline can deal with a pax that then goes to fly on another airline.

    • Right on!! This article was more about the Air India “Urinegate” incident, than the more technical issues related to the Air India transition. Leave to TATA, they will know how to resolve Air India’s future. Good Luck to them🤞✌️

    • Yes, I suspect that any orders emerging from this contest will have *very* meager margins.
      What a lovely situation for a customer to be in 😉

        • Boeing knows what the situation is and can deliver both immediate need numbers and sooner than Airbus who has not slots until 2029.

          • ..and Airbus has no need to give their aircraft away- unlike the other guys, who desperately need the treading-water cash churn.

          • Bill7:

            Better to be in a position where you are treading water vs not.

            Sure we would all like to be on the luxury yacht but you have to keep things in perspective.

          • @ TW
            And yet, the article above indicates that about 56% of the Air India order seems to be heading for Airbus…so the lack of early slots doesn’t seem to be an issue…

          • Bill7:

            Like a lot of things (luxury yacht included) we have to wait and see.

            Its entirely possible TATA orders a lot of Boeing jets now and Airbus jets for latter.

            The report of 30 x 787 is a nice one but again we have to see if its accurate.

            And its not like info from TATA is being selectively released to get the best deal.

            It could be the temperatures in India drive TATA to the A321.

            Their intentional routes may drive TATA to A330NEO and or the A350.

            Or it may be that they favor the 787/777 and Air India experience with both is important.

            My world is (was) oriented towards repair and maint. The FedEx mechanics did not like the MD-11 or the A300/310 but they loved the 777F.

            Management also loved them. I am just interested seeing what happens vs a dog in the fight. I would love to see Boeing recover and I do not think Calhoun (hope) is Boeing future.

            I do know my Yacht has not come in but I am happy with my row boat.

          • It might be theoretically sold out, but normally they oversell counting on customers that cannot take deliveries and they reserve future slots for their favorite old customers (LH, AF, IB, UAL, AA, JAL, BA)

  4. “The market is a key one for Boeing, especially right now, after it has been locked out of China because of geopolitical tensions”

    Chinese carriers ordered and received two 777Fs in 2022.

    Boeing isn’t “locked out of China” — only certain of its products are (with a big “UNSAFE” sticker on them)…

    • Yet the MAX is not only able to it is flying into and out of China.

      But the then China ignores the 737-800 crash.

        • NTSB had the flight data recorders since March/April.

          Of course China does not want to say what was found.

          • It took the Ethopians 3 years to publish their final accident report…

          • And how long did it take to release the FDR info?

            The Data is there and assessed with a timeline. There is only one reason China does not want the data out there.

            Of course Ethiopia left a lot of key information out as well as did not comply with the treaties signed regarding compliance with BEA and NTSB submitals.

            And regulatory capture or ownership is not just a US issue. And its why the NTSB is effective.

            You know all that of course.

            Granted when you work on equipment you have to be right 100% of the time. Machinery is a harsh world that does not work with spin.
            So my background is different.

            I think Heinlein put it best in the title of one of his books, The Moon is a Harsh Mistress.

          • TW, NTSB has given FAA a good serve on some occasions when it disagrees on the fixes needed on certain planes

            This is the smaller end of the ‘conflicts’ between the two.

            ‘The US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has blamed the Federal Aviation Administration for failing to implement safety recommendations that could have prevented a fatal helicopter crash in Hawaii in 2019.’

            What was the issue again over the ADA sensor ? The Ethiopians didnt give the manufacturers version of events… sacre bleu

          • @ TW
            “The Data is there and assessed with a timeline”

            There’s no CVR data for the China Eastern crash, which leaves the investigation very much in limbo.

            The Chinese authorities quickly stated that there was no reason to suspect suicide: all the flight crew were free of relationship issues, debt problems and/or extremist ideology.

            Hard to piece things together in such a case — although the recent AD on 737 cabin pressure sensors offers a possible clue…

          • China eastern ?

            ‘Although the CVR was damaged during the crash, it is unclear whether the investigators have been able to retrieve the data or not.’

            My guess is that they can recover it as the plane was only 7 years old and would be latest type of CVR, but the ball is in Chinas court and no other agency can comment till after the case is closed

            Sometimes ‘silence’ speaks volumes

          • @ DOU

            “The Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) told the Global Times exclusively on Wednesday that it has confirmed with personnel of the US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) who participated in the investigation of the crash of China Eastern Airlines’ flight MU5735 in March that they did not release any information about the probe, refuting earlier foreign media reports about the cause of the deadly crash.”


            Same story:
            “China Eastern accident: NTSB and China’s CAAC deny intentional dive reports”


            The CVR was damaged beyond repair by the high-g impact.

          • Bryce. Your link says nothing about the damage or non recoverability of the CVR, it is of course merely speculation on your part – unless you have ‘sources close to investigation’
            Others have speculated – saying people close to investigation have said the flight recorder has been decoded and it shows a sudden steep dive for no particular reason, not backed by evidence so far.
            If the FDR is readable then the CVR should be some or most of the data too

          • @ DoU
            You really should keep more up to date on your reading…

            “Investigators found the China Eastern 737’s CVR (cockpit voice recorder) close to the main crash site. The aircraft’s high-speed impact had damaged the unit externally. But initially, investigators announced that its storage unit was intact. However, it later emerged that the unit’s memory chip had suffered damage.”


            The “reports” in the WSJ came after analysis of FDR data — not CVR data. Those “reports” were subsequently denied by the NTSB (as I posted above).

      • @TW
        The MAX isn’t flying in/out of China.
        That’s a fantasy of yours that isn’t borne out by flight tracking websites.

          • MIAT: 4 flights that took place last year — one per week, for 4 weeks. Probably humanitarian in nature, or carrying necessary personnel for China.

            Nothing since then: no other airlines, no other routes.

          • Grin

            See below for MAX flight in China, I rest my case.

          • @TW
            Your post above is from Jan. 11.
            The MAX started flying in China on Jan. 13.


          • @Bryce
            See there are crystal balls (mostly for psychics??)

    • @Bryce

      Leeham has a couple of stories on this and the US/ China trade and political effects on this matter. But keep posting material to the contrary.

      • Similarly, Chinese media published the CAAC’s three re-cert conditions for the MAX in 2021. Two of those conditions haven’t been met.

        But keep posting material to the contrary.

        • Pray tell what the chinese media said was ‘the two unmet conditions’

          • Good lord, haven’t you been keeping abreast of that?

            “China’s civil aviation authorities always uphold three principles: First, aircraft alteration must be approved for airworthiness. Second, pilots must be fully and effectively retrained. Third, the conclusion of the investigation of the two fatal accidents must be clear and the improvement measures effective”


            Condition 3 is the bottleneck: it essentially requires EICAS.
            Condition 2 can’t be meaningfully started until condition 3 has been met.
            Condition 1 was met when the re-vamped MCAS was approved.

            More on the same 3 conditions:

            There really is no need to resort to politics when there’s a clear technical reason for the lack of re-cert.

          • UPDATE

            If you look below, you’ll see a story about the resumption of the first commercial MAX flight in China this morning (Jan. 13).
            Looks like the CAAC has contented itself with some sort of compromise — like the EASA.
            It will be interesting to see if the Chinese MAXs are still used after the Lunar New Year, which is in 9 days time.

          • So the Chinese airlines and government have essentially debunked your claims about the ‘last 2 conditions’ for resumed airline flights

            As for keeping abreast , you seem to have forgotten that China recertified the Max some time back ( without EICAS)…I think it was as far back as end of 2021

            Visiting the family /relatives for Lunar new year ?

          • @ DoU
            No, China re-certified the updated MCAS (CAAC condition No. 1) last year — that’s not the same as re-certifying the rest of the plane 😉

            As regards debunking theories:
            Has the geopolitical situation between China and the US suddenly improved in the past week? No? Then the MAX cert evidently had nothing to do with geopolitics…

        • @ Bryce

          China flying a MAX they already does not change the Geo Political situation that Scott Hamilton has done stories on, and other media outlets.

          • @williams
            Conversely: the geopolitical landscape hasn’t improved this week, and yet the MAX started flying again in China last Friday.
            That debunks the theory that the lack of re-cert was due to geopolitics, doesn’t it? 😉

          • @Bryce

            When China orders more MAXes in sizeable numbers, then we will know how much of thaw there is.

          • @williams
            Strange logic.
            European carriers have only ordered 175 MAXs in the 2 years since re-cert — and there’s no trade war between the US and EU.
            Can you guess why there’s so little appetite for the model in Europe? 😉

          • It’s more like “if” orders are coming … “Sizable”?? Hold your breath. 😁

  5. Bryan – Air India Express is a 100% 737 airline and I am assuming 737 Max may only go to Air India Express which in the coming months will also take over many domestic AI routes to better compete with the Indigo’s and Akasa’s. The Max’s may also replace Air Asia India routes once the integration is completed. So most likely Air India may continue to be an exclusive Airbus Narrowbody fleet and Air India Express continue as exclusive Boeing Narrowbody operator.

  6. Give some more time to Air-India as Tatas have just taken control from Govt.

    • TransWorld,

      Did you read correctly? Where did I say somewhere that Air India might prefer the 777X over the A350 and vice versa? Didn’t you understand that Saudi or the so-called new Saudi airline, Sry Lankan, Ethiopian Airlines are regional?

      I’m talking about hub implantation and aggressive destination offers by the ME3s. And that I have a serious doubt about the Air India order (I could be wrong but it’s my humble opinion)

      Why are you talking to me about the 777X vs A350 order? I was saying that the ME3 already had these 777-X, A350, 787, 777-300ER and A380 …

      • ” I was saying that the ME3 already had these 777-X”

        Nobody has the 777-X, because it hasn’t been certified.

  7. TATA is going to take years to deal with Air India culture.

    And you have to wonder if Airbus had no slots until 2029 where the A320 deliveries come from.

    Of course they can fill in with lots of C919 and MC-21.

    • Xiamen received its first A321 neos in December — even though the order was placed just a few months ago.
      There seem to be early slots around 😉

    • As our poster tells other to wait and see, can’t our poster practice what they preach?? Guess not. One set of rule for our poster, another for the rest. 🙄

      • It should be noted that when I was flying NOTAMs were notices to airmen.

        Now its Notice to Air Missions. We have to change with the times!

  8. TranWorld

    ‘Yet the MAX is not only able to it is flying into and out of China.

    But the then China ignores the 737-800 crash.”
    This is a powerful argument that may irritate more than one. The China-USA/USA-China economic war should not be an open secret…

  9. Air India does not have the money.
    The ME3s caused damage in the region since 15-20 years
    Sry Lankan is dropping like a fly.

    Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad have purchased the A380, 777-300ER, 787, A350 and 777-X in their place in large quantities

    I don’t have a feeling there’s going to be a movement there.

    Ethiopian Airlines is struggling to close its file. In 2018 it had not found an agreement for 777-8’s.

    At the end of 2021 it put A350s in competition in addition to the 777-X,

    In 2023, still nothing and the new Saudi Airline has become silent…

    Tata does not want to take risks.

    • Checklist:

      Could you interpret that for me?

      TATA has lots of money.

      TATA may indeed prefer the A350 vs the 777X.

      Not sure what that has to do with Ethiopia or Saudi.

      • Travellers to and from India prefer other international carriers.
        The ME3 have a nearby hubs where you connect to most other major countries and they have a large number of Indian cities in their network rather than the ‘big 3’ Indian hubs

      • Tata’s Air India is trying to raise debt left right and centre. SIA is also chipping in a bit. The problem here is the airline continues to bleed money. The financial hole is getting bigger and bigger.

        @TW no one wants to own a bottomless pit. May AI borrow BA’s magic accounting black box?? 😂

        • There is no Boeing accounting black box.
          Each years financials contain both unit and program accounting numbers.
          Recent profits (less) and losses (greater ) under your unit accounting methods instead of Boeing’s preferred system.
          But then you don’t read Boeing’s financials

          • “But then you don’t read Boeing’s financials”

            That’s fresh coming from someone who tried to tell us in the LNA article below this one, that BA had more sales than AB in 2022…;-)

          • Pedro:

            TATA is not a small company and they clearly understand the situation with aviation in India as well as Air India specifically.

            Certainly far more worldly than Air Asia.

            TATA brings money to the table and we have to see if they also bring good management. I don’t think it can get worse than Air India has been.

          • Enron was not a small company, so was WorldCom. 🤔
            Rolls Royce had accounting issues for years 🙄

            Tata’s British subsidiary JLR used aggressive accounting to juice its income until the house of cards fell apart.

            As I said, Tata’s AI is trying to raise debt from the market left right and centre.

          • Haha.

            Chris Bryant:
            “But while reported profits are an imperfect yardstick, they matter; something I argued when looking at Boeing Co.’s civil aerospace business, which would have *reported losses in 2012-2014 had it used the same accounting method as Airbus Group SE*.”

            Did BA disclose it back in 2012 – 2014? 🤣

    • With $120 billion revenue, $300Billion market capitalization and just $17 billion debt, Ratan Tata can afford to lose many billions to run the airline founded by his grandfather 🙂

      • The problem is that ME3s have been investing heavily for nearly 25 years. Ducofourl specifies that the ME3s have “proximity hubs”. Tata’s money is neither the subject nor a cause of success. The problem is the ME3… I have a doubt about this order.

        • Turkish Airlines successfully turned Istanbul into a popular longhaul hub, despite the presence (and relative proximity) of the ME3.

          Incidentally, Etihad is no longer a powerful player, so ME3 has actually become ME2.

          • Pushing 2000 miles between the two. Probably is when you get done with actually flight distances.

            Boise Idaho is going to be delighted to know they are in the Proximity of the East Coast!

          • @ TW
            May one assume that the word “relative” exists in Alaska dialect?

        • If TATA manage to the upgrade aircraft and bit of culture by 2025/2026, with competitive prices – I am sure they will end up taking a lot more traffic from Middle East carriers.

          • *If* “TATA” manage(s) …

            Time is not on Tata’s side, its competitors are not standing still.

  10. TransWorld

    You didn’t understand the words

    Where did I say somewhere that Air India might prefer the 777X over the A350 and vice versa?

    Didn’t you understand that Saudi or the so-called new Saudi airline, Sry Lankan, Ethiopian Airlines are regional?

    I’m talking about hub implantation and aggressive destination offers offered by the ME3s. And that I have a serious doubt about the Air India order (I could be wrong but it’s my humble opinion)

    Why are you talking to me about the 777X vs A350 order? I was saying that the ME3s already had these 777-X, A350, 787, 777-300ER and A380 that these regionals
    airlines have not (yet) been able to afford…

    • Checklist:

      That is why I asked as I was not seeing links with the various listed items.

      So I put out what I was seeing even if it made no sense.

      I don’t see Ethiopian as regional as they fly international.

  11. Pedro

    “May AI borrow BA’s magic accounting black box?? 😂…”
    You have wandered off topic.
    Are you trying to torpedo the discussion here?

  12. Taking into account geography and demographics, were one to locate the ideal hub for the next century it would be in Dehli, Northern India.

    Taking into account the overwhelming State bureaucracy and chronically poor infrastructure of that country it would be anywhere but India.

    If TATA were more ambitious they would see the opportunity and employ the hordes of under employed, highly educated engineers there and make their own aeroplanes.

    • Just 50 years ago, Dubai and Doha were small fishing towns.
      Things can change.

      • 1000 years ago the UK was inhabited by various tribes (who did not sit on top of pools of oil)

        100 years ago they were a world power.

        Today, they are a regional power.

        • Actually, if you replace UK by US in that post, it starts to make sense 😉

    • Guess where the 10s of 1000s people needed who run the ME3 airlines come from

      • Where do they come from? Do the ME3 give a tabulation?

        Who are in charge of many big tech in U.S.?

  13. Well, well — fresh from the press this morning:
    “China operates first Boeing 737 MAX passenger flight since 2019”

    “China Southern Airlines, the country’s largest airline, operated the service on Friday (Jan 13) using the first 737-8 MAX that Boeing delivered to it in November 2017. A Chinese airline hadn’t flown passengers on a MAX since the model was grounded in March 2019 following crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people.

    “The flight took off from Guangzhou at 12.45 pm local time, heading to Zhengzhou, according to tracking data from FlightRadar24 and VariFlight. That’s about a 2 1/2-hour journey. No other Chinese airlines have scheduled MAX services yet.”

    “The MAX will likely be needed to help meet a surge in demand after China ended its Covid travel restrictions and reopened its borders. The volume of flights within China – the biggest domestic air travel market in the world – has recovered to 98% of pre-Covid levels since the curbs were eased, according to VariFlight data.”

    • From the South China Morning Post this morning:

      “The resumption of flights indicates that it has met … principles that the CAAC repeatedly underscored: the design revision had to obtain airworthiness approval, the pilots had to obtain sufficient training, the conclusion of the investigation reports of two accidents had to be clear, and the improvement measures must be effective,” state media CCTV said on Friday.

      Looks as if the CAAC may have has contented itself with the modifications/retrofits mandated by EASA (and, subsequently, by the Maria Cantwell initiative in Congress).
      It may also have been waiting for the final report on the Ethopian crash.

      • Or China signaling they want a thaw in the US/China trade relations. Scott Hamilton has had a couple of articles on the subject.

      • Interesting that this was done quietly, and apparently resolved the claims China had made over the summer that they had unanswered pilot training questions.

        The real question is whether this will be another feint, or actual progress on the MAX. The test will be if further flights appear and deliveries resume to the joint Boeing-COMAC finishing facility in China.

        It also may be that the real threat of losing their ordered aircraft to an adversary was part of their motivation.

        • Will China bother with further deliveries, or just keep the MAX fleet that it has, and not expand it further?
          That’s going to be interesting.

          With their own C919 and AB, they don’t particularly need BA.

          • Who says that the Chinese still want them?

            They can all be cancelled without penalty…

      • Bryce:

        Love it, MIAT has done that for some time.

        Obviously MAX has been cleared to fly for some time despite the various incorrect assertions to the contrary.

        And yes I own my mistake on the A320 production/rate vs delivered statements. Credit to Scott C for clarifying the difference and I was totally wrong to call it Delivery vs a rate number.

  14. Regarding this week’s meltdown in the FAA computer system (referenced above), we now have this:

    “FAA is years away from upgrading the system that grounded all US flights”

    “The Federal Aviation Administration software that failed Wednesday causing thousands of flight delays and cancellations is 30 years old and at least six years away from being updated, a government source familiar with the situation tells CNN.

    “The FAA also now says “personnel who failed to follow procedures” caused the computer system failure that triggered Wednesday’s delay.”

    • Specifically, an IT worker overwrote a configuration file that contained critical settings, as part of routine maintenance activities. Didn’t realize they had done so, and it took a few hours to find it and restore the original file.

      • Rob:

        As a guy from the NTSB said, the system spews garbage.

        Not do I see a reason to cancel flights. Go with the last NOTAM and the sector centers can update you on anything significant.

        That is the issue, NOTAMs spew out and then you have to try to sort through them for anything relevant.

        Regardless, you don’t mess with a live system programing wise. There is a reason you prove this stuff out before you put it into the active system.

      • Doesn’t change the fact that the FAA is using immensely outdated software…

      • I can’t believe it can be this disorganized!! Opens my eyes. 😱

        Oh BTW another scandal brewing about “confidential” documents misplaced for *months*. Wow. Can’t believe my eyes as I read it.

  15. “So far, the 737 MAX has only been absent on domestic routes in China. In October last year, MIAT Mongolian Airlines, from Mongolia, had already restored its international routes with the aircraft between the capital Ulan Bator and Chinese destinations.”

    Nuff said.

      • “In December 2021, the Chinese regulator officially judged that the aeroplane was fit to fly again. China Southern was the first Chinese airline to return the 737 MAX to the skies on 13 January 2023.”

        Agreed, wrong is wrong. Granted that goes along with the EICAS is mandated for flight and the -7/10 won’t get the waiver (that is US politics and its understandable others may not understand how our system works)

      • At the moment, China Southern is the only Chinese carrier to have re-introduced the MAX…

        The big question, of course: will there be any new deliveries/orders, or will the Chinese just stick with the current MAX fleet?

        • China Southern is taking delivery of AB A321s while retiring 737NG. Oh it also took delivery of four A319neo last year.

      • Duke:

        Something around 64 MAX delivered into China before the crashes (and grounding)

        So they have a small reserve they can pull into service. Eastern is dipping its toe in the pool.

        Then if the need gets great enough, they will order MAX. They can’t get enough A320s and the C919 is not going to be produced at a reasonable rate for years.

        Yes they can place equal numbers of C919 in internal China and as long as they do the competitive aspects are neutral between the big 3 airlines.

        They can’t fly the C919 to a number of countries around China and trying to pick and choose is a costly impact due to aircraft inability to slot in as needed or where needed.

        Its going to be interesting. One day you have a policy and the next day you change it.

        • “the C919 is not going to be produced at a reasonable rate for years.”

          COMAC aims to produce 150 C919s per year within 5 years — more than enough to suit China’s needs.

          Already greenlighted by Indonesia — let’s watch the list of countries grow…

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