Why is a TUI Airways 737 MAX flying across Europe?

The world’s largest charter airline is currently flying one of its Boeing 737 MAXs for the first time in 553 days. Here’s why… 

Those who pay close attention to flight tracking apps will have noticed that TUI Airways is currently flying one of its Boeing 737 MAXs across Europe. 

The aircraft, G-TUMF (c/n 44599) departed Tenerife South Airport at 10.42am local time and is believed to be en route to Birmingham in the UK. 

The 19-month-old jet was delivered to the airline on February 22, 2019, and has been stuck at the Canary Islands airport since the worldwide grounding of the type on March 13 last year.

The aircraft (not pictured) was delivered to the carrier in February 2019. Wikimedia Commons/Alan Wilson

The Boeing 737 MAX was grounded worldwide following two fatal air crashes involving the type in October 2018 and March 2019. The narrowbody’s certificate of airworthiness was revoked after recurring flight control failure involving an augmentation system (MCAS) designed to mimic the pitching behaviour of its predecessors.  

Currently, the narrowbody is flying north from the airport at an altitude of just 18,000ft – it is thought this is because flaps are deployed to prevent MCAS from activating.

The aircraft has climbed to what appears to be its final altitude of 18,000ft. Flightradar24

It’s not known whether the aircraft will fly directly to Birmingham, but it is currently achieving a groundspeed of around 345kts. The flap limiting speeds of the first three stages for the Boeing 737 MAX in 250kts and according to adsbexchange.com, the aircraft is showing an indicated airspeed of 240kts. 

This operation comes shortly after the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) completed its flight tests for the type in Vancouver, Canada. Last week, the organisation said in a statement that it was “analysing the data and other information gathered during the flights” and that it was working to return the Boeing 737 MAX to service “as soon as possible, but only once we are convinced it is safe”.