Following the two 2019 tragic crashes, one in Indonesia and one in Ethiopia, that killed 346 people, the Boeing 737 MAX fleet was grounded worldwide. After a messy investigation that proved a flawed computer system, that Boeing knew about, felled both planes, the 737 MAX was updated with new flight software.
The FAA recently completed its testing of the modified 737 MAX and the next step will be for the FAA to evaluate the results of the three separate test flights.
Also, the Seattle Times reports that the FAA, along with a panel of regulators from Brazil, Canada and Europe will be evaluating minimum pilot training requirements and flight manual instructions, issuing a draft report open for public comment, and then producing a final report on the required minimum training standard. The latter will include time in a full-flight simulator, which is something Boeing had resisted for the 737 MAX.
With all of that, the 737 MAX fleet still won’t be back in service for months. But when it eventually does return, it will most likely be one of the most scrutinized planes out there. Airlines are well aware that the flying public might be particularly skeptical and it seems they’re willing to assuage those fears by taking a page from their current playbook.
In these days of COVID-19, both American and United, who currently fill their middle seats, have allowed passengers to change flights, if certain situations (i.e., percentage of seats on the plane are taken) are fulfilled.
Similarly, United has already said, in a statement to the New York Times, that the company, “…will be transparent, and communicate in advance, with our customers who are booked to fly on a Max aircraft, will rebook those who do not want to fly on a Max at no charge.”
According to a post by The Points Guy, American and Southwest will be offering similar options to their passengers if they are scheduled to fly on a 737 MAX and are uncomfortable with the same.
The operative word is, of course, “rebook,” not ‘refund.” But still, it’s a nice gesture on the part of the airlines that have already said they will be willing to offer this option for passengers who are uncomfortable about flying on a 737 MAX. I suspect that, in time, other airlines will follow with similar offers.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary