Boeing 737 MAX Resumes U.S. Service, Gets New Orders


American Airlines completed the first U.S. revenue flight of a Boeing 737 MAX in almost two years. Flight 718 departed Miami at 10:24 a.m. today and landed at LaGuardia at 1:12 p.m. The aircraft turned around for a return to Miami at 2:24 p.m. American was one of the first U.S. airlines to signal the MAX’s official return to service, though other carriers, including United and Southwest (which has the largest MAX fleet), have announced plans to bring the twinjet back to revenue service. United says it will run its first MAX flights in early February, while Southwest doesn’t expect to have its MAX fleet active until the second quarter of 2021.

There’s been a glimmer of good news for Boeing and the MAX this month beyond its return to service. Alaska Airlines placed an order before Christmas for an additional 23 MAXes, bringing its total order to 68 aircraft as the carrier looks to replace older Airbus A320s and A319s in its fleet. Alaska cited lower fuel burn, reduced maintenance costs on the newer Boeings and increased capacity as part of the attraction, which is added to revised financial terms Boeing has implemented to compensate buyers for the nearly two-year delay in the program. The airline also retains future purchase options on an additional 52 MAX aircraft.

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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. Glad (and relieved) the plane landed safely and without incident. But the resumption of service on most
    major carriers is both rash and premature. The cabin is a Petri dish for the coronavirus, as is the cockpit.
    With the pandemic now at record levels, operating commercial flights is itself hazardous to public health.
    Alas, the 737-MAX wasn’t thoroughly redesigned; on-board computers “compensate” for structural flaws,
    leaving pilots and crew members to face all the same dangers as before. Being aware of defects is good,
    but getting rid of them is far better. Boeing sacrificed solid workmanship at the altar of speed and greed,
    as is their wont. I shudder to think who will pay the price for their latest dereliction of professional duty.

  2. I would fly on one anytime. As to the petri dish comment, that could be said of other airliners as well. Point is, the MAX is a safe airplane and has gone through more scrutiny than most other aircraft in service today.

  3. I surely agree with Owen K. We (my wife and I) flew on the MAX before all of this happened, and on South West airlines from Las Vegas to Reno and even them found this airplane to be “fast, comfortable, bright, less noisy, and a smooth flight both ways.” Yes, its always sad when souls are lost. If I find this machine as it was designed and of course I/we don’t know what happened to the Boeing corporation company that might have “lost their way,” but still something has come out of it and hopefully the problems with the MAX will be done with.

    I also compare the MAX with the AirBus A 320 with well over 2 dozen accidents as they appear to be about the same size in passengers, and though I found the AirBus to be absolutely horrible to ride in as a passenger for comfort, noise, and generally will never do that again, I look forward to riding in a MAX.. So why haven’t I ever seen the anger with the A 320?

    Best of luck to the MAX!

  4. > 20-month recertification process

    That’s a false statement. The 20 months included the grounding and investigation period, with a minority of those months related to redesign and recertification. And it’s been reported that the final sim checks had help (verbal MCAS cues) from whoever was overseeing them.

    I still haven’t heard a coherent statement about what was done about the outsourced avionics software. As a software engineer, I have no faith in that at all.

    I think this points to a wider societal issue where facts are debatable, and “truthiness” is good enough. I’ve seen this in corporate America where known facts are countered with opinions, as if they’re equivalent.

    Hopefully hundreds of people don’t get killed this time.

    • James, as a 20 year project manager supervising software engineers I have no faith in your ability to recognize a real life situation and comment intelligently. You all (engineers) live in a fantasy land of perfection, rainbows and breezes, solar and wind will save us right?

      Just stoop, have some faith in the people smarter than you who CAN see the big picture. My guess is you live just down the street from Dennis!

  5. I appreciate these comments. Let me respond as follows: (1) According to wiki, the Airbus family has had
    159 major accidents, including at least 50 losses of hulls, with a total of 1,393 fatalities, since they began
    operating in 1987. That’s an average of nearly five accidents per year–much too high in any category of
    flight safety, regardless of miles flown, number of sorties or other exculpatory data. So put me on record
    as complaining about them, too. (2) Yes, the other airliners are Petri dishes, too. All of them should be
    grounded until the pandemic is over. If the airlines suffer economic hardship, that’s too bad. Two wrongs don’t make a Wright, but 346,000 COVID-fatalities will be double that number by the time the virus ebbs,
    unless we take stringent measures to curb it, and discipline ourselves to abide by them without exception.
    (3) You can’t be fair to Boeing by excusing Airbus, or be fair to Airbus by indulging Boeing. Show me the
    record (accurate, complete, painstakingly thorough) and I’ll judge accordingly–and (I hope) consistently.
    As the record shows, coronavirus is an airborne disease that has already killed nearly two million people
    worldwide, putting them underground. Do not add to it gratuitously. To paraphrase a winged prophet,
    you cannot serve two masters, be they politicians or corporations. Serve none, and save souls on board.

  6. Dennis, your weak-kneed attempt at justification of your argument leaves me no alternative but to ask, since you are such an astute student of risk and stats.

    So you don’t drive? Don’t eat anything you did not grow/raise on your organic farm? Never cross a street, or walk outside on a rainy day?

    Don’t you grow weary of being a prophet of doom? I know I am sick and tired of folks like you who do nothing but try to create ADDITIONAL fear, make ever increasing argument for government limits on any type of activity all supposedly to “save us from ourselves”.

    Listen, stay home, stop beating that polluted air all around you and let us fight over the last ear of corn, we will be the better for it. You offer no solutions, no encouragement to act or behave safely, just fear mongering.

    You are the worst kind of person there is, stop posing as a member of society and leave us alone, we are all sick of you and yours.

  7. Mark, thanks for saying what needs said. You echo the feelings of many. Statically, in 2017, 2.56 MILLION people died of pneumonia, and nearly one-third of them were children (booked as the largest killer of children). Yet, I heard none of the fear-mongers back then, or now. Where is the daily ticker tape showing deaths from that, or cancer, or heart disease, etc etc? Covid is real, can be dangerous, but isn’t new (just this strain) – but so are other causes of death. One of the wisest statements that I heard years ago was “beware of extremes.” And THAT is exactly where we are.