Photo Credit: Models of Boeing 737 aircraft are pictured in the Boeing Sheffield factory, the aerospace company's first manufacturing facility in Europe, in Sheffield, northern England on October 25, 2018. - The US aircraft manufacturer Boeing inaugurated its first plant in Europe in the north of England on Thursday, which will produce high value-added components and is a symbol of the Brexit approach. The opening of the site was celebrated with great pomp in the late morning in Sheffield in the presence of senior executives of the aircraft manufacturer and British politicians. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) (Photo credit should read OLI SCARFF/AFP/Getty Images)
Boeing's 737 Max Plane Gets FAA Approval To Fly Passengers Again
After a 20-month grounding, the Federal Aviation Administration has given Boeing the green light to carry passengers in its problematic 737 Max again.
The plane, which has served as one the best-selling aircraft in Boeing’s fleet, was grounded following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people within five months of each other.
Pilots on both flights – Lion Air Flight 610 on Oct. 29, 2018, and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10, 2019 – struggled against the system after it was activated because of faulty sensor data. Investigators later found that a safety feature meant to stop the plane from climbing too fast and stalling had forced the plane’s nose down, ultimately causing the crashes.
But following the news of ungrounding the controversial aircraft, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said a repeat of what happened in both crashes is now “impossible” thanks to design and training changes.
So, What Now?
The FAA’s approval only covers US domestic flights for the 737 Max jets operated by American, United, and Southwest Airlines, 72 in total.
Flights to or within other countries will need approval from the individual county’s aviation authorities.
For flights in the US, changes to the 737 Max must be installed and the FAA will inspect each individual plane before planes can carry passengers. Pilots will also have to complete additional training.
Even with all the changes, it remains unclear if customers are comfortable with flying in the plane.
US airlines will not charge passengers any fees to change their flight if they want to stay away from a 737 Max plane.
But consumer group Travel Fairness Now said not charging fees doesn’t go far enough. The group said customers should full refunds for their tickets versus airline credit, and also be able to book on another flight to the same destination without paying a difference in airfare.
“The circumstances surrounding the Boeing 737 Max are unprecedented in the history of commercial travel and call for extraordinary protections for understandably concerned consumers,” Kurt Ebenhoch, executive director of Travel Fairness Now, said to CNN Business.