- Boeing’s 737 Max airliners are returning to service with a Brazilian airline.
- The planes have been cleared for use and will begin taking passengers on over two dozen routes.
- The planes were blamed for the deaths of hundreds of passengers after multiple crashes were linked to aircraft faults.
2020 has been so jam-packed with bad news that it was easy to forget that one of the world’s biggest aircraft manufacturers was in the midst of serious safety concerns when the pandemic hit. Boeing’s troubled 737 Max made a lot of headlines last year, and for all the worst reasons. Crashes that killed hundreds of people were linked to faults in the aircraft, and the planes were grounded globally.
Now, as BBC reports, the 737 Max is back in the skies, at least on a limited basis. Brazil’s Gol airline has put the planes back on the tarmac, with a total of seven of the aircraft planned for use on 27 domestic flights. But is it safe? Boeing says yes.
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The global 737 Max fleet was grounded in early 2019 after multiple crashes claimed the lives of nearly 350 people. Boeing was stuck between a rock and a hard place, as it still had many 737 Max orders to fill but nobody wanted them if they couldn’t put the planes into service. Many airlines struggled to fill in the gaps and Boeing was left trying to win back public trust.
The company reported a number of changes that it made to the flight control software the 737 Max aircraft use, and tested those changes extensively early on. However, it also reportedly made a number of other changes, including changing the guidance for the crew to clear up some confusion about how to handle the aircraft under certain circumstances and even rerouting wiring within the planes.
As you can imagine (or probably already saw in headlines from last year), there’s a lot of drama surrounding the planes, Boeing, and the decision to bring them back into service. There were rumors for a while that Boeing or even the airlines that use the 737 Max jets were planning on some kind of rebranding campaign in order to separate themselves from the bad public sentiment surrounding the name.
That doesn’t appear to have taken place, which means that flyers will know that the planes they are boarding had a sketchy history before being fixed up. Or at least that’s the case with Brazil’s Gol, which is putting the planes back into action.
We’ll have to wait and see if US-based airlines follow the same trend or if they attempt their own rebranding or renaming efforts to give flyers more peace of mind. In the meantime, with the pandemic still raging and vaccines only just now reaching a point where they can be distributed, as in Britain this week, air travel remains a sketchy prospect no matter what name is on the side of the aircraft.