National Post (National Edition)

Boeing 737 Max back in use for first time since fatal crashes


WASHINGTON • Boeing’s troubled 737 Max jet series returns to the skies on Tuesday in the first major commercial test flight since the aircraft was grounded after two crashes killed 346 people.

American Airlines will relaunch passenger flights on the Boeing 737 Max 8 with a trip from Miami to New York, the first step in its plans to gradually reintroduc­e its 737 Max fleet.

The U. S. airline has worked hard to restore passenger confidence in the aircraft since U.S. safety regulators announced in November they had cleared the 737 Max to fly again.

It is informing customers they are choosing to fly on the Max aircraft before they confirm their ticket purchase, and will rebook customers who do not feel comfortabl­e about it.

“No one has to go on the Max if they don't want to, but if you want to, it's there,” David Seymour, the chief operating officer, said.

The flight — the first by a major global airline since the fleet was grounded in 2019 — represents an important first test for Boeing.

If passengers are reluctant to book flights on the aircraft, or get cold feet at the gate, the manufactur­er could lose billions of dollars in cancelled orders.

Boeing is already thought to have lost around US$18 billion while the jets were grounded, on top of a large compensati­on bill for the crashes.

Regulators worldwide grounded the Boeing 737 Max in March 2019 after two relatively new jets in the fleet crashed within five months of each other.

A faulty flight-control system that forced down the nose of the plane was implicated in both crashes. Boeing has made software changes to ensure pilots have greater control over the planes, as well as other alteration­s which the U.S. Federal Aviation Authority approved in mid-November.

Dave Calhoun, Boeing's chief executive, said that as well as the software changes, the company had improved its safety practices and culture.

He said: “We will never forget the lives lost in the two tragic accidents that led to the decision to suspend operations.

“These events and the lessons we have learned as a result have reshaped our company and further focused our attention on our core values of safety, quality and integrity.”

Early indication­s suggest that most commercial passengers are unconcerne­d about the prospect of travelling on the aircraft.

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