While we still don’t know when the Boeing 737MAX will safely return to the skies, workers in a California airplane-storage yard keep a careful vigil against earthier concerns.

34 Southwest Airlines 737MAX are stored in the Mojave Desert. The attention lavished now on the planes will help determine how fast the MAX get back in the air once a worldwide grounding is lifted.

The young jets’ only daily visitors these days are technicians who draw fuel samples to scout for bacterial contamination. Once a week, Southwest mechanics spool up the big turbofans, boot up flight computers, and extend and retract flight-control surfaces such as wing flaps.

Southwest declined to discuss the expense, but one industry veteran said such sojourns run about $2,000 a month for each plane.

There are almost 500 grounded Max planes around the world, a total that includes about 100 factory-fresh jets that can’t be delivered to customers because of the flying ban, which began in March.

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