Boeing’s updated 737 MAX completes first flight with media onboard

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In this news, we discuss the Boeing’s updated 737 MAX completes first flight with media onboard.

DALLAS (Reuters) – Boeing Co’s 737 MAX made its maiden flight after grounding with onboard media on Wednesday, as carriers seek to demonstrate to passengers the redesigned plane is safe after a 20-day security ban. month.

In another show of confidence, low-budget European airline Ryanair was set to place a large order for up to 75 more 737 MAX jets, industry sources said.

Wednesday’s American Airlines flight 737 MAX was a 45-minute jump from Dallas, Texas to Tulsa, Oklahoma. It comes weeks before the first commercial passenger flight on December 29 and is part of a public relations effort to allay any concerns about the plane.

Boeing’s best-selling aircraft was grounded in March 2019 after two crashes in five months killed a total of 346 people, marking the industry’s worst safety crisis in decades and undermining U.S. aviation regulatory leadership.

Wednesday’s flight marked the first time anyone, besides regulators and industry personnel, had flown on the MAX since the grounding, which sparked software-focused investigations that overwhelmed pilots .

The mood for Wednesday’s flight, which included a Reuters reporter, was subdued. Some passengers mingled and chatted before landing, when applause erupted.

Reflecting the COVID-19 pandemic that rocked commercial aviation, each of the approximately 90 journalists, flight attendants and other American Airlines employees aboard the flight wore face masks.

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“Aviation history is built around a chain of safety,” Captain Pete Gamble told passengers just before take off. “When the safety chain breaks, it’s up to us in the industry to fix it and bring it back.”

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration cleared the jet last month following design changes and new training.

A smooth return to service of the MAX is seen as essential to Boeing’s reputation and finances, which have been hit hard by the freeze on MAX deliveries as well as the coronavirus crisis.

Airlines and leasing companies spent hundreds of billions of dollars to purchase the latest upgrade to the 737, the world’s best-selling passenger plane.

Attracted by deep discounts and anxious to help repair the reputation of the MAX around which they have built their fleet plans, some airlines are now stepping in to show their commercial support.

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Boeing is bracing for intense publicity, even with routine issues, by having a 24-hour “situation room” to monitor every MAX flight around the world, and has briefed some industry commentators on the details of return to service, industry sources said.

“We continue to work closely with global regulators and our customers to safely return the fleet to commercial service,” said a Boeing spokesperson.

Brazilian Gol Linhas Aereas Inteligentes is planning a media event for the redesigned MAX this month.

Public relations efforts are designed to highlight software and training upgrades that the FAA says remove any doubts about the safety of the aircraft.

But family members of the crash victims have protested the return to service, saying it was premature before a final investigation report into the second crash in Ethiopia was released.

Boeing toned down its initial plans for the plane’s return as the crisis dragged on longer than expected – dropping a high-profile advertising campaign, a Seattle-area ceremony, and a tour using an Oman Air 737 MAX, according to industry sources.

United Airlines is expected to receive the first Max delivery since the grounding, a person familiar with the matter said.

Reporting by Tracy Rucinski in Dallas, Texas; Additional reporting by Marcelo Rochabrun in Sao Paulo, Tim Hepher in Paris; Written by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle; Edited by David Evans, Matthew Lewis and Gerry Doyle

Original © Thomson Reuters

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