The Boeing 737 Max commercial passenger aircraft has resumed operation in the United States following a nearly two year ban. The aircraft completed its first flight from Miami to LaGuardia Airport in New York on Tuesday through American Airlines. The President of the company was onboard the flight, as was the captain’s wife, likely to demonstrate that the company felt confident that the flight would be a success. Other Airlines will follow suit in 2021, with scheduled 737 Max flights to resume at the start of the new year.
After two deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia in 2018 and 2019, the company was forced to ground its entire fleet of 737 Max planes until it figured out what the problem was. It was later determined that an issue with the flight’s automated control system caused the planes to crash almost immediately after takeoff. Around the world, Boeing 737 Max planes were grounded almost immediately after the second crash happened in Ethiopia in March 2019, killing everyone onboard.
The grounding of the 737 Max was devastating for the company, which faced layoffs while manufacturing on the plane had to come to a halt. The company resumed production on the aircraft earlier this year, but only after employees faced significant layoffs due to both the grounding and the COVID-19 crisis that halted travel around the globe.
Issues with the 737 Max triggered investigations into Boeing’s manufacturing process, revealing that the company has historically cut corners on production. However, the issue with the 737 Max was with its design, not its manufacturing. Investigations into the company led to nearly two years of bad publicity, but brought with it a slew of changes to the aviation industry that would ensure problems like these are avoided in the future.
As one of the most fuel-efficient commercial planes on the market, the 737 Max represents a major disruptor in the aviation industry, with thousands of planes on backorder for airlines around the world. Brazil’s GOL Airlines operates entirely on a 737 Max fleet, and brought the planes back almost immediately after the FAA cleared it for commercial airlines to begin use once again.
Flights on the 737 Max are set to resume in the coming months. American Airlines has already begun using the plane once again, and other airlines are set to follow suit throughout the first quarter of 2021. United Airlines will begin flying the plane in February, and Southwest Airlines in March.