Boeing’s 737 MAX resumed passenger flights in the United States for the first time on Tuesday after a 20-month safety ban was lifted last month.
For all the latest headlines follow our Google News channel online or via the app
American Airlines Flight 718 departed Miami around 10:40 a.m., bound for New York’s LaGuardia and is scheduled to land soon after 1 p.m.
A Reuters/IPSOS poll shows that more than half of passengers are wary of taking the jet when reminded of two fatal crashes that led to the grounding.
“This aircraft is ready to go,” American President Robert Isom said at a media briefing in Miami before the flight. The airline is confident in the safety of the 737 MAX, he added.
The MAX was grounded in March 2019 for 20 months after two fatal crashes in five months killed 346 people. The grounding was lifted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last month after Boeing agreed to software upgrades and new safeguards on a key flight control system linked to both fatal crashes.
American’s first flight between Miami and LaGuardia follows flight control updates, maintenance work, fresh pilot training and town hall meetings with flight crews to walk them through Boeing’s changes and address concerns.
American is the third carrier globally to resume flights following Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes and Grupo Aeromexico earlier this month. Between those two airlines, the updated 737 MAX has flown about 250 commercial flights, according to Cirium, the aviation data firm.
American Airlines currently has 31 737 MAX aircraft after taking delivery of seven more jets since the FAA lifted its safety ban, including one on Monday and plans to gradually reintroduces the plane to its fleet.
A Reuters/Ipsos opinion poll released on Monday found that Americans are less familiar with the two fatal 737 MAX crashes, but if made aware of those disasters, more than half say they would probably avoid the aircraft.
The MAX’s return comes at a time when COVID-19 has thrust the industry into its worst crisis, with airlines parking hundreds of jets as demand hovers around 30 percent of 2019 levels.
When the 737 MAX was grounded, US airlines canceled flights because they lacked aircraft to meet demand, adding to Boeing’s financial liability.
Now airlines are deferring jet deliveries and do not expect a robust rebound until COVID-19 vaccines are widely available.
Relatives of 737 MAX crash victims oppose its return.
“I call on anyone looking to book a flight in the future to understand when they buy their ticket what type of airplane will be used so they can make an informed decision for themselves and their loved ones,” said Yalena Lopez-Lewis, whose husband Antoine Lewis died on the Ethiopian Airlines crash.
Canada nod for Boeing 737 MAX design changes, expects end to flight ban in JanuaryCanada expects to lift its flight ban on the Boeing 737 MAX jetliner in January, the country’s aviation regulator said on Thursday, after it approved ... Technology
European regulators set timetable for a return of Boeing 737 MAX flightsEuropean regulators on Tuesday began the timetable for a return of the Boeing 737 MAX to Europe’s skies early next year after an almost two-year ... Technology
UAE to announce return schedule for Boeing 737 MAXThe United Arab Emirates civil aviation regulator said on Sunday it would announce a return schedule for the Boeing 737 MAX in a timely manner after ... Gulf
After two-year scrutiny, US ends Boeing 737 MAX flight ban after crash probesAfter nearly two years of scrutiny, corporate upheaval and a standoff with global regulators, Boeing Co won approval on Wednesday from the US Federal ... Technology