If all goes according to plan, Qatar Airways will introduce the Boeing 737 MAX 8 into its operations in just over a week. Schedules filed indicate that the type will conduct its inaugural flight with the airline on May 15th with a relatively short service to Abu Dhabi from its Doha base. To prepare for safe and reliable operations with this new aircraft type, Qatar Airways' first MAX airframe has been logging some serious flight time, conducting nearly 100 flights in the past week alone.
Over 10 flights per day
Qatar Airways received its first Boeing 737 MAX 8 on April 15th after a lengthy ferry flight which included a stopover in Iceland. Days after arriving in Doha, this first airframe has been incredibly busy.
Examining flight history data from FlightRadar24.com, we can see that A7-BSC has been flying constantly since April 24th. While the 24th and 25th saw a mere eight training flights, many of the days after have seen the jet conduct over 10 training flights per day. Indeed, as many as 13 flights have taken place in a single day, a rough average of one every two hours.
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Where has A7-BSC been flying?
While Qatar Airways now has two MAX airframes, only its first (A7-BSC) has been used for training flights. A7-BSE arrived at the airline on May 4th but, at least at the time of publication, has yet to engage in the same activity as -BSC.
Of the dozens of training flights carried out by A7-BSC, the majority see the jet fly out of and back into Doha International Airport (DIA), not to be confused with the main commercial passenger facility used by Qatar Airways - Doha Hamad International (DOH). While these are two distinct airports, they are notably quite close to each other, and nearly side-by-side.
Analyzing flight history, it's clear that home base for the MAX is at Doha Hamad. This is where the aircraft ends its day and parks up for the night. Once a new day begins, the aircraft takes off and heads 'next door' to DIA, where the intense battery of training flights resumes once again. Most flights have a duration of 30 minutes, give or take a few minutes. This sees the aircraft takeoff, fly in a simple circle or slightly more complicated figure-eight pattern, and then land back at DIA.
A new type for the Qatar Airways fleet
The intensity of training in the leadup to entering service makes sense, considering the airline is operating the 737 MAX for the first time. Prior to accepting the jets, Qatar Airways only operated a narrowbody fleet exclusively consisting of Airbus aircraft. The carrier does operate Boeing passenger aircraft. However, until now, these have beeen widebodies in the form of the 777 and 787.
Despite being less than two weeks away from the inaugural flight, Qatar Airways has yet to update its website to include the Boeing 737 MAX.
What do you think of this intense schedule of training flights? Let us know by leaving a comment!
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Doha Hamad International Airport
- Year Founded:
- Akbar Al Baker