A Boeing 737 MAX operated by Southwest Airlines that was being ferried from Florida to California for storage suffered an engine problem and declared an emergency before landing safely Tuesday.

The FAA is investigating the incident.

With the MAX grounded globally, no passengers were aboard the aircraft. Southwest has already moved at least 15 of its fleet of 34 MAXs to Victorville, California, a desert airfield where there is lots of space to park the planes.

Stored there, they’ll be protected from the elements in the dry air and when Boeing’s software fix is finally approved for deployment, it can be installed on all the planes in the same place.

The crew of Southwest flight 8701 declared the emergency when they experienced an engine problem while departing from Orlando International Airport in Florida about 2:50 p.m. Tuesday.

The aircraft returned and landed safely in Orlando.

The emergency came amid investigations into two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, which together killed all 346 people aboard. The focus of those investigations is a new flight-control system on the MAX, not any engine problem.


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We continue to seek information on the design, training and certification of the Boeing 737 MAX. If you have insights, please get in touch with aerospace reporter Dominic Gates at 206-464-2963 or dgates@seattletimes.com. To communicate on a confidential and encrypted channel, follow the options available at https://st.news/newstips.