The first Boeing 737 Max to fly again in the US with paying passengers left from Miami this morning. It’s the 737 Max’s first commercial flight in nearly two years, since two deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia forced US regulators to ground the aircraft in March 2019.
American Airlines Flight 718 left Miami at 10:30 AM and arrived at Laguardia Airport in New York at 1:30 PM. To the passengers on board, it might feel like a relatively routine domestic flight, but for Boeing, the return of its 737 Max plane is huge.
The two crashes back in 2019 were attributed to an error in the automated flight control system, which made it difficult for pilots to regain control and altitude of the plane. Boeing has fixed the problem by rewriting the flight computer software, and the plane received approval to re-enter commercial service on November 18 by the Federal Aviation Agency.
So far, American Airlines is the only US airline to use the 737 Max in 2020. United Airlines will begin flying the plane out of its Denver and Houston hubs on February 11, 2021, while Southwest has said it won’t fly the 737 any sooner than March.
Passengers booked aboard any of these flights will be notified by the airline, and allowed to rebook with no change fee if they don’t feel comfortable.
According to the FAA, “Working closely with other international regulators, the FAA conducted a thorough and deliberate review of the 737 MAX. We are confident that the safety issues that played a role in the tragic accidents involving Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 have been addressed through the design changes required and independently approved by the FAA and its partners.”