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Boeing’s 737 Max returns in U.S. with American Airlines flight

An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8
An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 prepares to land at Miami International Airport on March 12, 2019, in this file photo.
(Joe Raedle / Getty Images)

Boeing Co.’s 737 Max has returned to commercial service in the U.S., with the first flight since two deadly crashes prompted the longest aircraft grounding in the nation’s history.

An American Airlines Group Inc. 737 Max 8 departed Miami at 10:40 a.m. (EST) Tuesday on the first leg of a round trip journey to New York’s LaGuardia Airport. American’s president, Robert Isom, is planning to be on both flights. U.S. regulators lifted the flying ban last month after ordering extensive revisions to the plane’s flight-control computer and other changes.

For Boeing, the Max’s return is the keystone of the company’s efforts to restore a balance sheet battered by the grounding and the COVID-19 pandemic. The Max accounts for about 80% of Boeing’s backlog of aircraft orders and represents the company’s only offering in the crucial single-aisle market, in which the U.S. planemaker trails Airbus.

American said it hasn’t seen signs that customers are trying to avoid the Max. The carrier has scheduled 588 Max flights in January, according to data compiled by Cirium, an aviation analytics firm.

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“Bookings on the Max are comparable to other aircraft, and we aren’t seeing data to suggest customers don’t want to fly the aircraft,” Sarah Jantz, a spokeswoman for the Fort Worth carrier, said in an email.

The aircraft returned to commercial service this month when Brazil’s Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes began operating regular domestic flights with the Max. The airline had operated 516 Max flights through Monday, while Grupo Aeromexico flew 73, according to Cirium.

Last week, a Max flown by Air Canada on a test flight experienced engine issues that forced the crew to make an emergency landing in Tucson, according to news outlet Aviation24.be.

Southwest Airlines Co., the largest buyer of Max planes, plans to fly the model next year, as do United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Alaska Air Group Inc.

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The Max was grounded in March 2019. A total of 346 people died in the two crashes.


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