The monumental screw up that was the 737 Max program has been getting back on track with the return to service of the 737-8 and 737-9 along with the new deliveries coming off the line. The 737-7 has been in flight test for a while now but its certification was going to be delayed until the main fleet issues had been resolved. Reports now suggest that it will be certificated in plenty of time before the year end deadline that Congress set for cockpit upgrade requirements.
A few Southwest 737-7s (Southwest is the significant customer for this marque) have been parked up at Renton for a while. These had been painted and then stored. However, a couple of 737-7s made flights to Boeing Field in recent times. These are Southwest jets but they have yet to be painted. The fact that they are on the move might be interpreted as suggesting that certification may not be too far away and that Southwest may soon be taking delivery. During the downturn that resulted from the pandemic, Southwest increased its -7 orders at the expense of the -8s. Now traffic is booming, I wonder whether Southwest will reverse that reversal and switch more orders to the -8.
When the pandemic first hit in a big way, I wasn’t going anywhere to shoot but, once it was okay to make trips without interfacing with other people too much, I did got to Paine Field to see the stored Southwest 737s and I wrote about it in this post. I was back up there recently and, while they have been cycling jets in and out, there are still a lot of their 737s parked there – predominantly but not only, 737-700s.
Some of them are up near the old cross runway and lined up in a good spot for a shot when the morning light is on them. I was a little later than ideal but I still managed to get something. Many of them are around near the FHCAM facility – still sadly closed and with no idea what the future might hold. I had brought some steps which meant I could shoot over the fence. The planes are really tight in there so I may a lot of use of panos to get decent coverage of the planes. I did also get some of the planes further away.
The coverings on the openings on the airframes were pretty comprehensive. Everything that is exposed has been taped over to prevent moisture or creatures getting in and causing harm. There have been various stories coming out of the issues affecting planes that have been in storage for a long time so, while this prep is good, there will still be much to do when these planes are returned to service. Meanwhile, Southwest is now taking delivery of its Max jets so it will be interesting to see how many of these planes do have a future.