Boeing’s rebuilding year drew to a close today with a milestone capping a momentous year in aerospace: the first U.S. passenger flight for a 737 MAX jet since the worldwide fleet was grounded.
American Airlines Flight 718 carried 87 passengers from Miami to New York’s LaGuardia Airport, more than 21 months after two catastrophic crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia brought a halt to 737 MAX flights.
The incidents led to months of investigation, focusing on an automated flight control system that was found to be vulnerable to software glitches. Boeing had to revamp the system and rework pilot training routines in cooperation with airlines. The Federal Aviation Administration gave the go-ahead for the return to commercial operations just last month.
Brazil’s Gol Airlines and Aeromexico resumed flying 737 MAX jets earlier this month, but Flight 718 was the first time since the grounding that a MAX carried paying passengers on a regularly scheduled U.S. flight.