The troubled Boeing 737 MAX, grounded since March last year following two fatal crashes, has finally received approval from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to resume flights. However, the clearance by the FAA only covers domestic flights within the U.S. and does not include international flights, for which Boeing will now be seeking relevant authority approvals.
The FAA noted in a statement that prior to any planes being flown with passengers again, the necessary changes to the 737 Max identified in the approval process must be installed and the FAA must inspect the individual planes. Additionally, the pilots must also complete further training, which will involve simulator training, including training on multiple flight-deck alerts during unusual conditions, along with how to respond to a situation known as runaway stabilizer with timely pilot actions required. Pilots must also be trained for erroneous, high angle-of-attack malfunctions. That process is expected to take between a few weeks and a few months, depending on the airline.
So far only American Airlines (AAL) has added the plane to its schedule for a handful of flights between Miami and New York in late December and early January. Other airlines are holding off. Southwest, which has 34 of the jets – more than any other airline – isn’t expected to fly passengers on the 737 Max until spring 2021. According to Reuters news agency, United said it expects to start flying the planes in the first three months of 2021.
American Airlines expects to train some 1,700 of its 4,000 737 pilots in December with a one hour and 40 minute iPad course and a two-hour simulator session that will follow a one-hour briefing, the union representing its pilots said. That process is expected to take between a few weeks and a few months, depending on the airline.