MIAMI-DADE COUNTY, Fla. – At 10:32 a.m. Tuesday, American Airlines flew a Boeing 737 Max plane with passengers from Miami International Airport to New York’s LaGuardia Airport for the first time in nearly two years.
The Boeing 737 Max was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after its involvement in two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, which killed 346 people.
It was later learned the pilots of both flights had issues with an automated flight-control system that had activated unintentionally.
The airline ran a short practice flight out of Miami International Airport earlier this month, but Tuesday marked the first flight with passengers since the grounding.
“This aircraft has been checked out from top to bottom and we’re confident that it’s ready to go,” American Airlines President Robert Isom said during a news conference before the departure.
American Airlines is the first U.S. carrier to reintroduce the controversial aircraft back into their fleet, saying they’ve done everything they could to make them safe and that pilots have had extensive training.
“The aircraft is much more efficient, much more green. It’s a new plane that ought to be flying and other aircraft are the ones that ought to be left home right now. This aircraft is ready to go,” Isom said.
A spokeswoman for the airline says about 100 passengers were booked to fly on Tuesday’s flight, which seats 172.
Last month, U.S. safety officials approved changes Boeing has made to a flight-control system on the plane. Since then, airlines in Brazil and Mexico have operated dozens of flights with the planes.
“Now that it’s been re-certified and that we’re confident that safety has been of the utmost concern, the aircraft is ready to go,” Isom said.
American Airlines will be starting with just this one roundtrip flight, and will begin expanding the use of them next week. United says they will start flying the planes again in February and Southwest Airlines says they will begin flying the planes in the second quarter of 2021.