After nearly two years on the ground the Boeing 737 Max may soon take to the skies once again.
On Wednesday, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cleared the way for the plane to carry passengers once again, nearly two years after the aircraft was grounded following two deadly crashes, a Lion Air flight on Oct. 29, 2018, and an Ethiopian Airlines flight on March 10, 2019.
“The design and certification of this aircraft included an unprecedented level of collaborative and independent reviews by aviation authorities around the world,” the FAA shared in a statement. “Those regulators have indicated that Boeing’s design changes, together with the changes to crew procedures and training enhancements, will give them the confidence to validate the aircraft as safe to fly in their respective countries and regions.”
But, that doesn’t mean you’ll be boarding a 737 Max just yet. As CNN explained, the FAA identified a few necessary changes to the 737 Max, however, those must still be installed in the aircraft. Then, the FAA will inspect each individual plane. Finally, pilots will have to undergo additional training before taking to the cockpit. And it won’t stop there.
“Following the return to service, the FAA will continue to work closely with our foreign civil aviation partners to evaluate any potential additional enhancements for the aircraft,” the FAA added. “The agency also will conduct the same rigorous, continued operational safety oversight of the MAX that we provide for the entire U.S. commercial fleet.”
The process could take weeks to months, depending on the airline. According to CNBC, American Airlines is set to be the first U.S. airline to return the 737 Max to service at the end of this year. United Airlines and Southwest Airlines are expected to follow suit sometime in 2021.
While Boeing is likely pleased with the news, family members of the victims from the two 737 Max crashes are not. "The plane is inherently unstable and it is unairworthy without its software," Michael Stumo, the father of Samaya Rose Stumo, who died in the March 2019 Ethiopian Airlines crash, shared with CNN. "They haven't fixed it so far. The flying public should avoid the Max in the future. Change your flight."
For its part, Boeing says it’s pushing forward with the two deadly crashes in mind. "We will never forget the lives lost in the two tragic accidents that led to the decision to suspend operations," David Calhoun, chief executive officer of The Boeing Company, told CNN. "These events and the lessons we have learned as a result have reshaped our company and further focused our attention on our core values of safety, quality and integrity."
Stacey Leasca is a journalist, photographer, and media professor. Send tips and follow her on Instagram now.
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