MIAMI – American Airlines (AA) is planning to return its Boeing 737 MAX to service at the end of the year. The airline will operate a daily Miami-New York flight from December 29 to January 4, 2021, with the aircraft. Tickets will go on sale on October 24.

Originally, AA was anticipating the return of the MAX on August 18, 2020. The airline released an update back in February, stating that they were in “continuous contact with the Federal Aviation Administration, Department of Transportation and Boeing.” The update goes on to answer some of AA’s customer concerns about the MAX, such as travel impacts and flight rebooking.

Despite AA’s prediction, the MAX was still not ready for commercial flights in August. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) was proposing its final corrective actions for the jet at the time. Since then, AA has not released any more updates on the MAX returning to service until recently.

American Airlines Boeing 737 MAX 8. Photo: Carlos Lugo

FAA, EASA Carry Out Test Flights

Two fatal crashes resulted in the worldwide grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX in October 2018. Although it is uncertain when the jet will get approval for commercial flights again, progress is being made with testing and training. FAA Director Steve Dickinson feels “comfortable” on board the MAX after completing a test flight in September. “I liked what I saw. I felt that the training prepared me,” he says.

However, Dickinson mentions that the FAA is “not to the point yet” where the process of recertifying the MAX is complete. He also stresses that his flight was not a part of that process. “At the end of the day I’m a pilot,” he explains. The FAA is continuing to work with Boeing to approve changes to the aircraft.

On the other hand, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has declared the MAX safe to fly. EASA completed its own validation flights in Canada and is satisfied with the jet’s changes. A document reviewing the changes and training will be made available to the public in the coming weeks.

Boeing 737 MAX 7, the aircraft Steve Dickinson flew. Photo: Steve Lynes via Wikimedia

American’s MAX Fleet

Boeing officially announced the 737 MAX in 2011. A record-breaking order from American, in addition to demand from some of its largest customers, led Boeing to upgrade the 737 rather than design an entirely new airplane. The first 737 MAX flew on January 29, 2016 and AA’s inaugural revenue flight with the MAX occurred on November 29, 2017.

American currently has a commitment to order 100 MAX 8 jets. So far, 24 have been delivered to the airline. In July, AA threatened Boeing to cancel part of its order after struggling to secure financing for 17 aircraft.

N324RA, first Boeing 737 MAX-8 for American Airlines. Photo: AA