Reported by Chris Sloan for Business Insider; American Airlines became the first US airline to fly the Boeing 737 Max jet on 29th December, after 21 months grounding. He was onboard the first commercial flight from Miami to New York LaGuardia.
Here’s what it was like onboard the first Boeing 737 Max passenger flight.
Brett Snyder of the Cranky Flier says all eyes will remain on the MAX.
“The media will make front page news of even the smallest incident, like a medical diversion, and plaster the headlines about it being a MAX across the front page. But as the airplane quietly performs well flight after flight, the concerns will melt away and people will forget about this. It just takes time.”Brett Snyder, Cranky Flier
Upgrading the MAX Fleet
American Airlines, have been working at warp speed to safely return the MAX to safety. The airline’s Tech Ops team in Tulsa, Oklahoma has put more than 64,000 hours of work into maintaining and upgrading the MAX fleet, over the past 20 months.
“We’re not going to build trust just sitting on the ground.”American Airlines Operations Chief
Every aircraft completes a required Operational Readiness Flight (ORF) to ensure it’s ready for passenger service. The successful completion of the readiness flight allows aircraft to begin flying revenue service. Beyond the Operation Readiness Flight, there are no federally mandated number of flights or flight hours required prior to revenue service
As of the end of this year, American Airlines will have re-activated all 24 of their delivered MAXs; they will also have taken delivery of 10 more, according to American President Robert Isom who was also onboard the flight. 1,400 of the company’s 2,700 737 pilots have been retrained in the simulators to fly the MAX.
For their first full month of MAX operations in January 2021, American has filed 588 flights utilising the aircraft. It is expected that the return to normal service will be gradual, made even more so due to the COVID passenger downturn.
“No Pressure” to Fly on the MAX
Considering the large distrust for the MAX, even after such an overhaul, American has opted to notify all passengers that they will be specifically flying on the aircraft.
In addition to the elimination of change fees for most customers, announced in August 2020, in the immediate term, American will also provide additional flexibility for those who would rather fly on something else. This also applies if a customers’ flights are shifted to a MAX in the event of a cancellation. Customers can:
- Rebook on the next available flight in the same cabin — free of charge
- Cancel their trip and receive travel credits redeemable with American Airlines
- Change their itinerary within a 300-mile radius at no extra charge, if there is no alternative American Airlines flight available to get them to their destination