With last month’s recertification of the Boeing 737 MAX by the FAA, American Airlines is keen to be the first US airline to return the aircraft to service. The airline’s management has outlined the initial schedule for getting its 737 MAX planes safely back into the skies in a message to staff.
Preparing the 737 MAX for service
American Airlines has released a message to its staff from Chief Operating Officer, David Seymour, discussing the 737 MAX’s return to service with the airline. The COO said that the airline has implemented “rigorous processes” to ensure that every aircraft in the air is safe. That includes plans to fly the aircraft before it returns to commercial service.
The airline has around 2,600 737 pilots who will complete the training mandated and approved by the FAA. That involves classroom briefings, computer-based training, and return to service training on the 737 MAX simulator.
As for the aircraft, which have been grounded for almost two years, Seymour says they will be ready thanks to their Tech Op’s comprehensive storage program. He said,
“Throughout the past 20 months, the team has kept these aircraft in excellent condition with regular care and maintenance. In anticipation of the return to service, the team will complete the maintenance requirements included in the Airworthiness Directive, including updating the software.”
To ensure they are ready for passenger service, each plane will then complete an Operational Readiness flight. An American Airlines 737 MAX undertook a test flight out of Tulsa on December 1 and would be flying to Dallas later the same day.
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Where will American Airlines fly the MAX?
American Airlines is taking a phased approach for returning the 737 MAX to service. The carrier will start in early December with non-commercial flights. Before the official return to service date, employees are being offered the chance to fly on the aircraft. Five “flights to nowhere” will be operated from December 3 to 17 out of Dallas, Miami, and New York LaGuardia.
The airline plans to resume scheduled 737 MAX services on December 29 with two flights a day, or one round trip, from Miami to La Guardia through January 4. After that, American expects to gradually bring more of the aircraft into service throughout January. It will be operating up to 36 flights a day out of its Miami hub.
Earlier this year, American tentatively announced new routes for the 737 MAX in anticipation of its return to service. It planned flights from Los Angeles to Nashville and Miami to Cali, Chicago O’Hare, Guatemala City, Guayaquil, Havana, Holguin, Houston, Las Vegas, Managua, Nashville, Panama City, Port-au-Prince, San Salvador, St. Maarten, and Tampa.
Restoring customer confidence
American Airlines realizes that restoring customer confidence in the 737 MAX will take time in the wake of two fatal crashes and 20 months of being grounded. The airline won’t be forcing passengers to fly on the aircraft if they don’t want to and will offer the flexibility to re-accommodate reluctant travelers.
The carrier is also planning to host tours of the 737 MAX as it nears its return to service. During the tours, pilots and mechanics will be available to answer customers’ questions and attempt to allay any fears.
What do you think of American Airlines’ hurry to return the 737 MAX to service?