Brazilian airline GOL announced that it will be resuming passenger flights using the troubled Boeing 737 Max aircraft.
GOL will become the first airline to resume Boeing 737 Max flights after the aircraft was grounded globally in March 2019 following two fatal crashes that resulted to the death of 346 people.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) granted clearance to the Boeing 737 Max aircraft and lifted grounding orders last November. Although it received clearance to fly from the FAA, existing planes will need to be modified before going back into service.
According to the FAA, the design changes it had required “have eliminated what caused these particular accidents”. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said: “We’ve done everything humanly possible to make sure” these types of crashes do not happen again.”
Boeing chief executive officer (CEO) Dave Calhoun mentioned that aside from the required improvements to the 737 Max, the aircraft maker had also strengthened its safety practices and culture since the crashes.
Calhoun said: “We will never forget the lives lost in the two tragic accidents that led to the decision to suspend operations.”
“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,” the Boeing chief added.
Boeing 737 Max returning to the skies
According to GOL, the largest domestic airline in Brazil, the Boeing 737 plane will be used on routes to and from its hub in the city of Sao Paulo. However, the carrier did not specify which specific route will be used for the first flights.
The airline also noted that passengers will be notified if their flight will be flown on the 737 Max and will have the option to have their tickets exchanged for flights using other planes if they refuse to fly on the 737 Max.
GOL only has Boeing aircraft in its fleet of 127 jets, including seven of the 737 Max planes. The airline expects to operate all seven aircraft by the end of December.
The Brazilian airline has also made orders for 95 other 737 Max planes, which are scheduled for delivery between 2022 and 2032.
GOL expressed confidence in the changes made to the plane to ensure its flight safety.
GOL chief executive officer (CEO) Paulo Kakinoff said: “We are pleased about the return of the Boeing 737 Max to our network. The Max is one of the most efficient aircraft in aviation history and the only one to undergo a complete recertification process, ensuring the highest levels of safety and reliability. We reiterate our trust in Boeing.”
The airline also mentioned the conduct of additional training for 140 of its pilots who will fly the Max on handling the new safety systems added to the plane.
Boeing’s Brazil managing director Landon Loomis responded: “It is a pleasure to be partners with GOL in reaching this important milestone and we look forward to what is yet to come in our partnership.”
Meanwhile, in the US, American Airlines announced back in October that it will launch Boeing 737 Max tours to bring back the confidence in the plane.
American Airlines said it will begin flights with employees after Thanksgiving, assuming the FAA will allow flights in mid-November, Seymour noted. An American Airlines spokesman explained that the company’s plans remain tentative.
The airline company plans to offer customers a chance to see the aircraft up close at airports, including Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport, LaGuardia, and Miami, along with pilots and mechanics. The company also said that pilots can respond to customer questions through calls and video messages.