The Boeing 737 MAX Has Officially Been Ungrounded

The FAA administrator has signed the ungrounding order for the Boeing 737 MAX. That will allow it to return to the sky, once an airline’s training program has been approved, software has been updated in aircraft, and pilots are trained on new procedures.

Changes to the MAX mean that both of the plane’s Angle of Attack sensors have to match before engaging the MCAS system. We’ll wait for the final rule to know the extent of revisions to Boeing’s submitted training plane.

While Southwest Airlines says they expect to take 3-4 months to bring the 737 MAX to the skies once it is officially ungrounded, American Airlines is accelerating their process. Once the FAA issues their final rule,

  • They’ll get check airmen trained
  • start bringing pilots through for mandatory training (including simulator time).

American has access to three simulators, one of their own, one of Boeing’s and a third from maintenance and repair company CAE. It will take a couple of months to get all their pilots through training. They’ll introduce a small number of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into their schedule and then gradually add more, basing the planes at Miami because that lets them “centralize the qualification requirement for pilots to certify on new training.” The MAX will replace “block 1” older 737-800s in service.

Among the 6 controversial things I believe about the 737 MAX is that even if you say you won’t fly the plane again you’re going to.

The bar for this plane to fly is higher than any other aircraft in the world, it has exceeded that bar. About 5000 of them have been ordered. American, United, Southwest and Air Canada all have MAX aircraft in their fleet. Once the plane flies again, and does so safely, it will become ubiquitous in aviation – and we’ll all wind up flying the aircraft.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. If American Airlines puts Max flights on sale for $39 one way MIA-JFK or maybe LAX-MIA they will fill the planes to the Max. After a few months people will only care about price and safety will be a distant memory as long as they don’t crash again.

  2. I see your point but I do think the next 24 months will be crucial for the plane. Even if one accident occurs then Boeing may be back to square one.
    As for me, I am loyal to Delta and as long as DL doesn’t have any 737-MAX orders, then I guess I may never fly this aircraft. I do recall reading an article a month ago that Boeing is courting Delta to buy some 737-MAX jets that other airlines have scrapped but I really really hope Delta declines the offer.

  3. So let me see if I get it right. Before, if one of the AoA sensors was malfunctioning, the MCAS would run the plane into the ground and some inadequately trained pilots had problems resolving this “running stabilizer” situation
    But MCAS was originally designed to prevent this badly designed plane from stalling. So now, after the “fix”, if one of the sensors malfunctions, plane is going to stall? And the same inadequately trained pilots (well, not exactly the same, but those who survived original bug) from the same airlines are going to resolve stalling situation? Which still would require them to be trained better than they are now? And how is this different from before, exactly?

  4. IMHO, I am sure if the two 737 Max disasters occurred in western countries and not in lands far, far away, the 737 Max project would have been scrapped.

  5. This engineer says “no way” as to my getting back on this Frankenstein of a plane. Take a bad aerodynamic design and fix it with software? Yea right. Imagine if the DOT approved that approach to “fixing” Ford Pintos? And then combine the Max’s “fix’ with an Oasis interior? I’ll take my travel $ to Delta.

  6. To “Andy (the other one)” —

    Well, I was going to debunk your comment in detail, but because not one thing you said is accurate or true, I think setting you straight would probably take too long. On top of that, I rather imagine that someone as ill-informed and wrong-headed as you are isn’t someone who can be informed or edified or disabused at all.

    And the 37Max is not a “Frankenstein” airplane. It’s the Fourth Generation update and modernization of the most highly produced airliner in history. The MCAS problem occurred in Third World countries because the inferior Third World pilots didn’t know what to do to override the MCAS system. Yes, Boeing is mostly to blame as there were serious problems in the development process — but the FAA is partially to blame, also. They foolishly allowed Boeing to do too much self-verification during development.

    Also, the Boeing CEO at the time had the Boeing management focused on the stock price rather than on making superior products.

    The final fact of the matter is that the fix for the MCAS problem was and is falling-down simple, and the fix and recertification need not have taken this long. At all.

    The 37Max is an excellent airplane and I wouldn’t hesitate to fly on it for a second.

  7. While am not a frequent flyer, am not quick to
    to trust Boeing. It will be quite a while before
    I’ll board and fly on Boeing. Can’t help but wonder
    what else they’ve put in their planes that they
    haven’t told the passengers nor the pilots.

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