American Plans To Fly The 737 MAX This Year


American Airlines is planning to restart 737 MAX service this year—barely. The airline said that it will fly the MAX between Miami and LaGuardia starting Dec. 29, amounting to just one flight a day. American has 24 of the 737 MAX jets on its roster, second only to Southwest (which has 34) in the U.S. The MAX has recently received approval from the European Aviation Safety Agency, saying that the airplane is now “safe” and that it expects the design to begin flying again in the E.U. before the end of the year.

“We remain in contact with the (Federal Aviation Administration) and Boeing on the certification process, and we’ll continue to update our plans based on when the aircraft is certified,” American Airlines spokeswoman Sarah Jantz said

American will be transparent with travelers that the B-737 on these flights will be a MAX, and that will provide one of the first tests of customer resistance to flying on the jet. Even so, the FAA has not provided a hard timeline on when the airliner will be approved for return to service, though the test flying appears to have concluded in North America and the FAA has updated its training protocols for the MAX to include model-specific simulator training

This story has been updated to correct the number of 737 MAXes in Southwest’s fleet.

Marc Cook
KITPLANES Editor in Chief Marc Cook has been in aviation journalism for more than 30 years. He is a 4000-hour instrument-rated, multi-engine pilot with experience in nearly 150 types. He’s completed two kit aircraft, an Aero Designs Pulsar XP and a Glasair Sportsman 2+2, and currently flies a 2002 GlaStar.

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  1. The plane may be ready, but is the flying public? There will be a significant number of people who will be ignorant to its history, but I think American only dipping their toes in the water signifies there may be more data behind its acceptance.

    • I think the flying public fall into certain groups. For the most part, you have people who don’t know what kind of plane they’re on, and probably don’t care. There are people who have concerns with any plane that is “too little” and that acceptable size threshold varies individually. The body of people who know and strongly care whether or not they’re flying on a MAX is going to be relatively small. Those people will never be ready for it until after the airplane has been back in routine service of a year or more. So at some point service must begin.

      • I agree with David. The vast majority of travelers won’t care or know. But all of this will depend on how the media handles the reintroduction of the MAX or 8, or whatever Boeing and friends are calling it these days. If they talk about its past, it could send people into a frenzy.

        Either way, this is not my route or the airline I fly with 🙂

  2. Most passengers seem to be more concerned with things like leg room, charging ports in seat backs, carry on baggage space, and whether or not there are TV screens in the seat back. Some do know the type of aircraft they are on, but most don’t really care. As to safety, I would fly on one today and not give it a second thought.

  3. Every scheduled flight lists the type of aircraft used, right on the ticket. It’s also on every website
    that books flights, and every travel agent knows it, too. Thus there is nothing “transparent” about
    what American Airlines is doing, except for their deviousness. What remains utterly opaque is the
    737-MAX itself, which may explain why their news release coyly put the word ‘safe’ in quotes. Let
    corporate lawyers fly the plane, so that pilots, crews and passengers may at last lay down the law.