The saga of theBoeing 737 MAX aircraft continued Tuesday when a plane operated by Southwest Airlines reported an engine problem en route from Florida to California. The plane landed safely, albeit about 2,500 miles from its intended destination of Victorville, California. Thankfully no passengers were on board this plane as it was being ferried by another aircraft to Southwest’s storage facility and not in service. The airline reportedly owns 34 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft and has moved 15 of them to its Victorville storage facility since the FAA grounded the aircraft following a fatal crash in Ethiopia on March 10.
Southwest Flight 8701 departed from Orlando International Airport around 2:50 PM. The plane’s crew declared the emergency shortly afterwards, after experiencing the engine issue during takeoff. The plane was redirected back to the airport and touched down without further incident.
The news comes at a sensitive time for Boeing and the commercial airline industry following the fatal crash of the aircraft in Ethiopia earlier this month, which killed 157 people, and another in Indonesia that killed 189 people in October 2018. The FAA is currently investigating the two fatal incidents to determine what, if any, similarities there are between them and what steps Boeing must take to ensure passenger safety on the aircraft.
According to a report in the Seattle Times, Southwest plans to store its 737 MAX aircraft at its Victorville facility until Boeing releases a software fix for the aircraft. Once approved by the FAA, the software will be installed on the planes at the storage site prior to them being declared safe for commercial use.