American Airlines will be the first airline to resume commercial passenger flights with the Boeing 737 Max. The aircraft originally received a 20-month ban from flying due to two fatal crashes in 2019 – Lion Air flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 – which investigators have attributed to flawed onboard safety instruments.
An updated Boeing 737 Max operated by American Airlines had recently completed a 45-minute test flight with media members onboard as part of a public relations campaign, taking off from Dallas, Texas and landed in Tulsa, Oklahoma. The airline stated that commercial flights with the aircraft will resume in the US on 29 December 2020.
During the grounding of the original 737 Max models, which spanned from March 2019 and was recently lifted in November 2020, Boeing has been working to rewrite the plane’s software, update its manuals and conduct key flight safety tests prior to receiving clearance. According to Reuters, the company has set up a 24-hour “situation room” in order to monitor every 737 Max around the world, recording everything that happens during flights – even routine glitches.
American Airlines says that it will note on their website if a flight will use the updated aircraft, and will also allow passengers to rebook their flights without paying a fee if the original one that they’ve booked is assigned to it. At this time, Ireland’s Ryanair is the second airline reportedly planning to resume flights with the Boeing 737 Max. Given the current situation with the COVID-19 pandemic which has restricted air travel worldwide, it will likely take some until other airlines to also follow suit.