Following 20 months of being on the ground, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has granted clearance for the airplane to take to the skies once again.
First introduced in 2017, two fatal crashes, which led to the deaths of nearly 350 people, caused the FAA to ground the plane in March of 2019. It was suspected that defective sensor readings in the flight control’s software were largely to blame for the accidents.
Boeing has spent nearly two years making changes to the software, aircraft design, and crew training protocols to avoid repeating these fatal mistakes. The FAA has concluded that these changes have effectively mitigated any outstanding concerns. The FAA’s chief, a former Delta airline pilot, took a test flight in September and liked what he saw. It’s expected that regulators in other countries will follow the FAA’s lead.
It may still take some time for the plane to return to the skies
It’s not expected that the jet will make an immediate return to the airspace. The FAA will still have to approve pilot training procedures for every U.S. airline that intends to use the 737 Max as part of its fleet. It will also take time to make the necessary updates to each plane.
In addition, the pandemic has taken a massive bite out of the air travel industry. Airlines may not be in any hurry to get their 737 Max planes off of the ground. Only time will tell whether Boeing survives the hit to its reputation and whether travelers will feel comfortable taking a 737 Max to their destination.