Richmond Times-Dispatch

American showcases BoeingMax

- BY DAVID KOENIG

DALLAS— American Airlines is taking its longground­ed Boeing 737 Max jets out of storage, updating key flight-control software, and flying the planes in preparatio­n for the first flights with paying passengers later this month.

The airline invited reporters and photograph­ers onto one of the planes on Wednesday to demonstrat­e its confidence in the plane’s safety.

All Max jets worldwide were grounded in March

2019 after the second of two crashes that together killed 346 people. Last month, the Federal Aviation Administra­tion approved changes — mainly in flight-control software— that will allow airlines to resume flying the plane.

American planned to explain Wednesday the steps it has taken to bring the planes out of storage and make the FAA-required changes.

American is likely to be the first carrier to put passengers on Max jets, beginning Dec. 29 with once-a-day round trips betweenNew York and Miami. In the meantime, the airline has been flying the plane with employees on board and, now, reporters and photograph­ers.

Some relatives of people who died in the crashes— and who still believe the plane is unsafe— expressed outrage at both Boeing and American overwhat they termed a publicity stunt.

Zipporah Kuria, a British citizen whose father died in the second Max crash, said Boeing and the FAA should instead turn over documents on changes made to fix the plane and how they were tested. The company has withheld the documents, saying they cover trade secrets.

“I feel like Boeing is using the press to leverage public trust instead of actually genuinely earning public trust,” she said. “I’m really disgusted by thewhole thing and the fact that American Airlines would pay for that. Their focus is more about the profit and corporate interest than it is about consumer safety.”

Some people who lost family members believe that the FAA erred by not accepting all the recommenda­tions made by pilots and aviation profession­als during a public comment period on its proposal to let the plane fly again.

Scrutiny of the plane has focused on a flight-control system called MCAS, which repeatedly pushed down the nose of the plane before both crashes. Boeing, which describes changes to the plane on its website, and the FAA say the system has been made less powerful and easier for pilots to override.

Some of the family members, however, wanted a deeper, nose-to-tail review of the plane. And they don’t trust Boeing or the FAA, which allowed the plane to keep flying after the first crash, in Indonesia in 2018.

“It hasn’t been evaluated to the point wherewe can say that it’s safe,” said Nadia Milleron, whose daughter was killed in the second crash, which occurred in Ethiopia. “This plane hasn’t flown very much with this new software, the revamped MCAS, interfacin­g with the plane. It’s not responsibl­e for them to put you on this flight.”

Boeing said Wednesday it has flown more than 1,400 test flights on updated Max planes.

It’s unclear whether the flying public will accept the plane or avoid it. American says that if customers don’t want to fly on a Max, it will put them on other planes.

 ?? THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? A Boeing 737 Max jet prepares to land. The aircraft, grounded in 2019 after two deadly crashes, returns to flight this month.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS A Boeing 737 Max jet prepares to land. The aircraft, grounded in 2019 after two deadly crashes, returns to flight this month.
 ?? THE ASSOCIATED PRESS ?? American Airlines pilotsPete Gamble (left) and JohnKonsta­nzer talk before takeoffin a Boeing 737 Max in Grapevine, Texas.
THE ASSOCIATED PRESS American Airlines pilotsPete Gamble (left) and JohnKonsta­nzer talk before takeoffin a Boeing 737 Max in Grapevine, Texas.

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