Boeing 737 Max faces the ultimate test of flyer fears2 min read . Updated: 20 Nov 2020, 07:53 AM IST
- Max is now among the most analysed aircraft in history, given its catastrophic failures
Fatal flaws in the Boeing Co. 737 Max have been addressed and the plane is now safe to fly, US aviation regulators contend. Yet for many airline travellers, a central question remains: Do I feel safe flying in a plane that crashed twice, killing 346 people?
“There’s no way I’m flying it, period," said Jon Bonne, a New York-based food and wine writer. “No one in commercial aviation scraps a bad airplane and just starts over. So we’re stuck with the Max."
The Max’s catastrophic failures were attributed to Boeing’s shortcomings and US regulators’ deference to the industry they govern. “That’s what caused the Max to get off the factory line with a whole lot of problems," said Jerry Elmas, a sales executive in Austin, Texas, who plans to “wait a couple of years" before flying on a Max, even if it means adding a connection to one of his trips. “I’m a business person," he said. “If I kill my customers, they don’t come back."
Others noted that the Max is now among the most analysed aircraft in history, given the aftermath of the 2018 crash off Indonesia and the second disaster a few months later in Ethiopia. Having grounded the plane in March 2019, the Federal Aviation Administration lifted its order on Wednesday.
“I guess I just trust enough in the airline industry given their overall record," said Kristen O’Brien, a writer in Austin, Texas. “The Max has been so scrutinized now that I feel like, if anything, it’s got to be safer than other planes."
The four US airlines that have bought the 737 Max are preparing to return it to service in coming months, with American Airlines Group Inc. leading the way in late December on flights between its Miami hub and New York’s LaGuardia Airport.
United Airlines Holdings Inc. said each one of its Max airplanes will require about 1,000 hours of work and training before resuming service in the first quarter of 2021. Alaska Airlines will take the first of its 32 aircraft in January and begin customer flights in March. Southwest Airlines Co., the largest Max customer, plans to resume flying the plane in the second quarter.
“If we had a cause for doubt of the safety of our fleet—or any subset of it—simply put, the planes would not fly," Southwest chief executive officer Gary Kelly said on Wednesday.
American said that if its passengers don’t want to fly on a 737 Max, they won’t have to. “If a customer prefers to not fly on this aircraft, we’ll provide flexibility to ensure they can be easily re-accommodated," the carrier said in a message to employees.