The beleaguered Boeing 737 MAX jet is revving up again. On December the 2nd there was a test flight for media and employees from its hub in Dallas to its maintenance facility in Tulsa, Oklahoma (and back). Then, on the 9th of December, it returned to commercial service for the first time with GOL, the largest domestic carrier in Brazil (GOL has announced it plans to have all seven of its MAX jets back in the air by the end of December).
There is a long road ahead of the 737 MAX though to be re-implemented more broadly, with articles like “How To Tell If You’re Booking On A 737 MAX” as well as innumerable outraged Instagram comments showing it will take a long time to get everyone back on board (and suggesting many are still keen to avoid this type of jet, which was grounded due to two crashes caused by technical issues in October 2018 and March 2019).
DMARGE recently spoke to The Points Guy Travel Analyst Zach Griff, who was invited onboard the aforementioned media test flight, to ask what it was like. After seeing Griff post of his experience, “I felt comfortable flying the plane, especially after learning about all the work that @americanair’s pilots and mechanics did to get the plane flying again” on Instagram, we asked him what, specifically, made him feel more comfortable.
“I learned about the entire end-to-end experience in how the jet is going to be brought back to the sky,” Griff told us. “The pilots described the four-hour simulator training that they need to undertake in order to be recertified to fly the MAX. This includes going through all the different possible emergency scenarios and being 100% confident in how to handle every one of them.”
“The mechanics explained the physical changes that needed to be undertaken to get the plane certified again. This includes a software update to fix the faulty angle-of-attack measurements that was partially responsible for the two tragic crashes. In addition, the chief mechanics worked with the Federal Aviation Administration on walking through the entire plane – from nose to tail – to go through any other possible issues with the jet.”
Griff also provided us with a few more details around the flight itself: “We flew from American Airlines’ mega-hub in Dallas/Fort Worth to Tulsa and back. American operates the largest maintenance facility in the United States in Tulsa, and that’s where we heard from the pilots and mechanics about how they’re working to bring the MAX back to the skies.”
As for other flyers’ concerns about flying on the 737 MAX again (one commenter underneath Griff’s Instagram post wrote: “Nope. Boeing’s negligence with this aircraft and it’s choosing to ignore pilot concerns? Not flying this thing ever”), Griff said they were understandable, given the jet’s history, but that personally, he is not worried about stepping on board: “With two crashes in such a short period of time, some flyers are understandably nervous to fly a MAX again.”
“Boeing has worked with airlines, pilots, mechanics and the Federal Aviation Administration to get the MAX back to the skies. The planemaker hosted focus groups and has a very open relationship with the airlines, including American Airlines. The carrier told reporters that pilots are always in communication with Boeing about safety and flight specific issues.”
“In my opinion, hearing from the top pilots and mechanics at the world’s largest airlines makes me reassured to fly on the MAX. When these life-long professionals take their children and families on the MAX – after understanding and implementing all the changes that are being made – then I too feel comfortable flying the jet.”