Over the past week, five of the seventeen 737-800BCFs leased from GECAS by Amazon and currently operated on a CMI basis by Sun Country Airlines have stopped flying.
Four of these aircraft (32348; 32578; 32605; 32739) were ferried to Kansas City (MCI), while a fifth (29947) was sent to Everett (PAE) on Sept. 29 or 30. None have flown since, according to flight-tracking radar. We note that both MCI and PAE are home to MRO facilities of Aviation Technical Services, and that all the 737s Amazon placed with Sun Country underwent conformity at PAE after being ferried from conversion in China.
The Sun Country aircraft are reportedly receiving repairs to the section of fuselage just forward of the large cargo door due to damage caused by the loading of ULDs.
Amazon declined to comment on its reason for taking the aircraft out of service, and did not provide a timeline for the return to service of the airframes.
The aircraft left the network just days after the FAA’s Sept. 24 issuance of a new Airworthiness Directive (AD), effective Oct. 29, applicable to certain 737-600, -700, -800, and -900 aircraft to prevent possible ignition in the center fuel tank in case of an electrical fault. While the AD states that most U.S.-registered passenger planes are unaffected, “U.S.-registered cargo airplanes may be affected by this AD.” Those that are will either need a full modification to install flammability reduction means, or as an alternative fix, a wire separation procedure will need to be carried out, along with regular inspections.
Sources familiar with the AD could not immediately rule out a possible link between the Amazon Air maintenance and the AD, but expressed doubt, given so many were taken out of service at the same time and the deadline is six months after Oct. 29. In a written statement, a Boeing spokesperson later confirmed, “We are aware of several 737-800 Boeing Converted Freighters that are currently undergoing repairs. These repairs are not mandated by any current airworthiness directives or related to the production or design of the airplane.”
Update Oct. 2: An earlier version of this article stated that a pair of 737-800BCFs (32742 and 32882) operated by Southern Air for Amazon had not flown since Sept. 27 and 29, respectively. Those aircraft resumed flying today and the seven 737-800BCFs Southern Air operates for Amazon have all flown recently, within the past twenty-four hours. As we’ve reported, Southern Air is in the process of stepping up its 737-800BCF operations for Amazon. The story was also updated to include a comment provided by Boeing.
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