Boeing Co.’s 737 Max has returned to commercial service in the U.S., with the first flight since two deadly crashes prompted the longest aircraft grounding in the nation’s history.
An American Airlines Group Inc. 737 Max 8 departed Miami at 10:40 a.m. Tuesday on the first leg of a round trip journey to New York’s LaGuardia Airport. American’s president, Robert Isom, is planning to be on both flights. U.S. regulators lifted the flying ban last month after ordering extensive revisions to the plane’s flight-control computer and other changes.
For Boeing, the Max’s return is the keystone of the company’s efforts to restore a balance sheet battered by the grounding and the coronavirus pandemic. The Max accounts forabout 80% of Boeing’s backlog of aircraft orders and represents the company’s only offering in the crucial single-aisle market, in which the U.S. planemaker trailsAirbus SE.
American said it hasn’t seen signs that customers are trying to avoid the Max. The carrier has scheduled 588 Max flights in January, according to data compiled by Cirium, an aviation analytics firm.
“Bookings on the Max are comparable to other aircraft, and we aren’t seeing data to suggest customers don’t want to fly the aircraft,” Sarah Jantz, a spokeswoman for the Fort Worth, Texas-based carrier, said in an email.
The aircraft returned to commercial service earlier this month when Brazil’s Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes SA began operating regular domestic flights with the Max. The airline had operated 516 Max flights through Monday, while Grupo Aeromexico SAB flew 73, according to Cirium.
Last week, a Max flown byAir Canada on a test flight experienced engine issues that forced the crew to make an emergency landing in Tucson, Arizona, Aviation24.bereported.
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Southwest Airlines Co., the Max’s largest customer, plans to fly the model next year, as doUnited Airlines Holdings Inc. andAlaska Air Group Inc.
The Max was grounded in March 2019. A total of 346 people died in the two crashes.
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