American Airlines flew a Boeing 737 Max from Dallas to Tulsa today, one of its first 737 Max flights in almost two years. A gaggle of media people were on board to record the occasion, part of an effort by American to ensure its customers that really, these planes are safe now. I’m guessing that for many people, more convincing will be needed.
The 737 Max was cleared to fly again last month after being grounded for almost two years because of two crashes that killed 346 people. Those crashes were attributed to faulty sensors and lack of pilot training, issues that the FAA says have been addressed. Today’s flight was the next step for American in reintroducing the 737 Max to the flying public.
A journalist from CBS was there to film things:
Meanwhile, Pete Muntean from CNN shared video of passengers applauding as the plane successfully touches down. According to Muntean, the COO of American also said at the event that customers will be able to see if their upcoming flight will be on a 737 Max and adjust accordingly.
American Airlines CEO Doug Parker and others were on a separate 737 Max flight yesterday. Parker even took his wife with him, which seems like a risky move in terms of domestic tranquility.
Next, American is offering flights to employees. The flights will take off and land at the same airports and are meant to ease any concerns employees might have.
“We know that restoring our customers’ confidence in the 737 Max starts with ensuring our own team members are comfortable,” the airline said in a message on its internal computer network. American also said it’s planning opportunities for corporate customers to see the aircraft and ask questions.
American’s first one-hour employee flight is scheduled at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Dec. 3. Additional flights are set for Miami on Dec. 8 and 17, and for New York’s LaGuardia on Dec. 9 and 15.
American plans its first 737 Max commercial passenger flight for December 29. And while I’m not totally sure why American thinks doing a handful of test flights will be persuasive to the public — airplanes need to be consistently safe for thousands and thousands of hours in the air, not just a few flights for press and employees — I understand what they’re going for. At a certain point it’s now or never with the 737 Max. The big question: Would you?