Boeing 737 MAX returns to service in first US commercial flight since March 2019

A Boeing 737 MAX has departed Miami International Airport with 100 passengers aboard for the aircraft’s first U.S. commercial flight since faulty sensor readings contributed to two deadly crashes and the plane was grounded in 2019.

The American Airlines flight is scheduled to land at New York’s LaGuardia Airport around 1.30pm on Tuesday, according to an airline spokeswoman. 

The airline gave customers the chance to change flights if they were uncomfortable on the MAX, and many of the passengers on the flight are members of the media.

Last month, the Federal Aviation Administration approved changes that Boeing made to an automated flight-control system implicated in crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that killed 346 people in all. 

AA718 is scheduled to land in New York around 1.30pm on Tuesday. It is the first US commercial flight of the 737 MAX since the plane was grounded in March 2019 after two deadly crashes

AA718 is scheduled to land in New York around 1.30pm on Tuesday. It is the first US commercial flight of the 737 MAX since the plane was grounded in March 2019 after two deadly crashes

AA718 is scheduled to land in New York around 1.30pm on Tuesday. It is the first US commercial flight of the 737 MAX since the plane was grounded in March 2019 after two deadly crashes

Passengers look out at American Airlines flight 718, a Boeing 737 Max, parked at its gate at Miami International Airport as people load for the flight to New York on Tuesday

Passengers look out at American Airlines flight 718, a Boeing 737 Max, parked at its gate at Miami International Airport as people load for the flight to New York on Tuesday

Passengers look out at American Airlines flight 718, a Boeing 737 Max, parked at its gate at Miami International Airport as people load for the flight to New York on Tuesday

Passengers board the first 737 MAX US commercial flight in 21 months in Miami on Tuesday for the flight to New York

Passengers board the first 737 MAX US commercial flight in 21 months in Miami on Tuesday for the flight to New York

Passengers board the first 737 MAX US commercial flight in 21 months in Miami on Tuesday for the flight to New York

American Airlines flight 718 is pushed back from its gate at Miami International Airport on its way to New York on Tuesday

American Airlines flight 718 is pushed back from its gate at Miami International Airport on its way to New York on Tuesday

American Airlines flight 718 is pushed back from its gate at Miami International Airport on its way to New York on Tuesday

In both crashes, the system pushed the nose down repeatedly based on faulty sensor readings, and pilots were unable to regain control.

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.

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 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. 

The MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019, days after the second crash. Reports by House and Senate committees faulted Boeing and the FAA for failures in the process of certifying the plane.

The Boeing 737 Max flew its first commercial flight since the aircraft was allowed to return to service nearly two years after being grounded worldwide following a pair of separate crashes

The Boeing 737 Max flew its first commercial flight since the aircraft was allowed to return to service nearly two years after being grounded worldwide following a pair of separate crashes

The Boeing 737 Max flew its first commercial flight since the aircraft was allowed to return to service nearly two years after being grounded worldwide following a pair of separate crashes

American Airlines ground crew look on as the flight takes off from Miami on Tuesday. 'This aircraft is ready to go,' American President Robert Isom said at a media briefing in Miami before the flight

American Airlines ground crew look on as the flight takes off from Miami on Tuesday. 'This aircraft is ready to go,' American President Robert Isom said at a media briefing in Miami before the flight

American Airlines ground crew look on as the flight takes off from Miami on Tuesday. ‘This aircraft is ready to go,’ American President Robert Isom said at a media briefing in Miami before the flight

American Airlines flight 718 takes off from Miami in a historic moment as the 737 MAX returns to service. A Reuters/IPSOS poll shows that more than half of passengers are wary of taking the jet when reminded of two fatal crashes

American Airlines flight 718 takes off from Miami in a historic moment as the 737 MAX returns to service. A Reuters/IPSOS poll shows that more than half of passengers are wary of taking the jet when reminded of two fatal crashes

American Airlines flight 718 takes off from Miami in a historic moment as the 737 MAX returns to service. A Reuters/IPSOS poll shows that more than half of passengers are wary of taking the jet when reminded of two fatal crashes

FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson, a former military and airline pilot, operated a test flight in September and vouched for the plane’s safety, saying he would put his family on it. 

American Airlines President Robert Isom planned to be on Tuesday’s inaugural U.S. flight.

American plans to make one round trip a day between Miami and New York with the planes through January 4 before putting the MAX on more routes. 

United Airlines plans to resume flights with the MAX in February, and Southwest Airlines plans to resume flights with the planes in March.

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, U.S. 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.

American Airlines flight 718 takes off on Tuesday. American plans to make one round trip a day between Miami and New York with the planes through January 4 before putting the MAX on more routes

American Airlines flight 718 takes off on Tuesday. American plans to make one round trip a day between Miami and New York with the planes through January 4 before putting the MAX on more routes

American Airlines flight 718 takes off on Tuesday. American plans to make one round trip a day between Miami and New York with the planes through January 4 before putting the MAX on more routes

The flight took off without incident on Tuesday in Miami. The MAX's return comes at a time when COVID-19 has thrust the industry into its worst crisis in history

The flight took off without incident on Tuesday in Miami. The MAX's return comes at a time when COVID-19 has thrust the industry into its worst crisis in history

The flight took off without incident on Tuesday in Miami. The MAX’s return comes at a time when COVID-19 has thrust the industry into its worst crisis in history

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.

Regulators in Europe and Brazil also cleared the way for airlines to resume using the plane if certain changes were made and pilots were provided with additional training.

The first worldwide passenger flight with a revamped MAX took place this month in Brazil. 

Brazil’s Gol airlines has since operated more than 540 flights and Aeromexico has operated more than 80 with MAX planes, according to tracking service Flightradar24.

BOEING’S 737 MAX: WHAT WENT WRONG

OCT. 29, 2018 – A Lion Air 737 MAX plane crashes in Indonesia, killing all 189 people on board

NOV. 13, 2018 – FAA, Boeing say they are evaluating the need for software or design changes to 737 MAX jets following the Lion Air crash

NOV. 30, 2018 – Boeing is weighing plans to launch a software upgrade for its 737 MAX in six to eight weeks that would help address a scenario faced by crew of Indonesia’s Lion Air, sources told Reuters

MARCH 10, 2019 – An Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX crashes, killing all 157 people on board

MARCH 12, 2019 – FAA says will mandate that Boeing implement design changes on the 737 MAX by April that have been in the works for months

MARCH 13, 2019 – FAA joins other major global regulators in grounding the 737 MAX, citing evidence of similarities between the two fatal crashes

APRIL 6, 2019 – Boeing says it will cut monthly 737 MAX production by nearly 20%; U.S. and airline officials say they believe the plane could be grounded for at least two months

MAY 16, 2019 – Boeing says it has completed a software update for its 737 MAX jets and is in the process of submitting a pilot training plan to the FAA

JUNE 27, 2019 – Boeing says it will take until at least September to fix a newly identified problem with software that emerged when FAA test pilots were reviewing potential failure scenarios of the flight control computer in a 737 MAX simulator

JULY 18, 2019 – Boeing says it has assumed regulatory approval of the 737 MAX’s return to service in the United States and other jurisdictions will begin early in the fourth quarter

OCT. 24, 2019 – Boeing says it still expects FAA approval to fly the 737 MAX in the fourth quarter, sending its shares higher despite a slump in quarterly profit. FAA says it will need “several weeks” for review

NOV. 7, 2019 – U.S. and European regulators ask Boeing to revise documentation on its proposed 737 MAX software fix

NOV. 11, 2019 – Boeing says it expects the FAA to issue an order approving the plane’s return to flight in December, forecasting commercial flights to resume in January

NOV. 15, 2019 – The head of the FAA tells his team to ‘take whatever time is needed’ in their review of the 737 MAX

DEC. 11, 2019 – FAA chief Steve Dickson says 737 MAX will not be cleared to fly before the end of 2019

DEC. 12, 2019 – Boeing abandons its goal of winning regulatory approval for the 737 MAX to resume flying in December after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said the plane would not be cleared to fly before 2020

DEC. 23, 2019 – Boeing fires CEO Dennis Muilenburg

JAN. 6, 2020 – An audit conducted in December reveals that wiring in the tail of the 737 MAX could short circuit and lead to a crash if pilots don’t know how to respond correctly

JAN. 9, 2020 – Boeing releases hundreds of internal messages between employees to the Congress and the FAA last week, raising serious questions about its development of simulators and showing employees may have covered up issues

JAN. 13, 2020 – Budget airliner Ryanair reveals it could receive its first deliveries of up to 10 grounded 737 MAX aircraft from Boeing by April, but cautions this will depend on the regulators

JAN. 16, 2020 – Committee, appointed by Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao in April, finds the FAA safety approval process was not at fault

JAN. 21, 2020 –  Boeing announces it does not expect federal regulators to approve its changes to the grounded 737 Max until this summer, several months longer than the company was saying just a few weeks ago.

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