A Boeing 737 Max plane just flew paying passengers for the first time since its worldwide grounding in March 2019


Gol Linhas Aéreas Boeing 737 Max 8
A Gol Linhas Aéreas Boeing 737 Max 8. Ajuangon/Shutterstock.com
  • Brazil’s Gol Linhas Aéreas performed the first scheduled Boeing 737 Max flight with passengers since March 2019 on Wednesday.

  • Flight 4104 departed from Sao Paulo en route to Porto Alegre and arrived without issue after climbing as high as 38,000 feet.

  • Gol has orders for 95 Boeing 737 Max jets and is proving to be the most eager of the world’s airlines to get the fleet flying again. 

  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Boeing 737 Max has successfully flown its first commercial flight since March 2019.

Brazilian low-cost carrier Gol Linhas Aéreas became the first airline to fly paying passengers on the Max in over 20 months on Wednesday morning with the first flight taking off from Sao Paulo’s Guarulhos International Airport bound for Porto Alegre in southern Brazil. 

The 8:20 a.m. flight from Sao Paulo to Porto Alegre operating as flight 4104 went off without a hitch, Flightradar 24 shows, with Gol’s second Boeing 737 Max making the flight down the coast in one hour and 16 minutes while achieving a top altitude of 38,000 feet. 

Gol announced the flight on Monday, just two days before it was scheduled to take place, beating out the rest of the world’s carriers flying 737 Max jets. Flightradar 24 data for the aircraft, which wears the registration PR-XMB, shows a series of test flights across Brazil in the days leading up to Wednesday’s revenue run. 

Brazil cleared the Boeing 737 Max to fly again on November 25, as Reuters reported, just one week after the Federal Aviation Administration approved the aircraft to fly again in the US.

The US and Brazil are the only in the world to approve the Max’s return to the skies, though more are expected to follow suit in the coming months. The Canadian Press is reporting that approval is “imminent” with the country’s two largest carriers, WestJet and Air Canada, among the current operators of the Max. 

The 737 Max has found a home in Latin America with Gol just one of the carriers that fly the Max in the region along with Aerolineas Argentinas, Copa Airlines, and Aeromexico, according to Cirium data, with an order for 95 of the Max 8 variant. Only seven aircraft arrived at the airline before the March 2019 grounding with deliveries expected to continue in 2022, according to the airline

Like most carriers that adopted the Max, the Brazilian carrier has a strong Boeing 737 fleet that made the Max a logical choice as pilots could fly the 737 Next Generation and 737 Max interchangeably. It was initially marketed as a cost-effective upgrade that didn’t require additional simulator training for pilots. 

Boeing strongly pushed against requiring pilots to undergo additional simulator training as it would’ve made the jet less attractive to potential customers and a more expensive investment. Additional training often means more downtime for pilots who would need to spend time learning the aircraft’s systems and how to fly it. A computer-based training was recommended instead. 

What pilots weren’t told about the Max, however, was the addition of a quasi-autopilot system known as Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, that would take over and angle the plane down if the sensors indicated the aircraft was angled too high. 

Read more: The 16 most outrageous things Boeing employees said about the company, 737 Max program, and each other in released internal emails

Gol’s flight wasn’t the first with passengers on the Max in 2020, however, as American Airlines has been flying employees and media on demonstration flights in cities across the US. Business Insider’s David Slotnick flew on the first flight for a Max in the US last week and detailed the changes American was making in order to get its fleet of 24 jets and counting back in the sky for its late December debut. 

American will be the first US carrier to fly the Max based on current airline schedules from the three US operators of the Max – American Airlines, United Airlines, and Southwest Airlines – with the first flights scheduled for December 29 on the Miami-New York route. Cities up and down the East Coast and in the Caribbean will then see the Max come January as American quickly grows the aircraft’s route network.

United Airlines will follow in February with its Boeing 737 Max 9 debut scheduled for February 11. The aircraft will fly routes from Los Angeles and Houston to cities including Orlando, San Diego, and Tampa, as well as between Los Angeles and Houston. 

Southwest Airlines hasn’t announced a return to service date for its Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft with CEO Gary Kelly saying the jet won’t fly before the second quarter of 2021. One of the jet’s largest supporters, Southwest has nearly 300 Boeing 737 Max aircraft on order, 34 of which were delivered before the March 2019 grounding, Cirium data shows.

Alaska Airlines will take delivery of its first Boeing 737 Max in 2021 and begin flying the aircraft in March after extensive flight testing. The first flight is currently scheduled for March 1 from Los Angeles to Portland, Oregon, according to Cirium data, but that may change. 

Travelers, however, can expect the Boeing 737 Max to be common in the skies once more by the end of next year as airlines are eager to take advantage of the jet’s cost-saving economics and finally fly the aircraft they are spending billions to acquire. 

Read the original article on Business Insider



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