1st commercial flight without incident for the 737 MAX after accidents

1st commercial flight without incident for the 737 MAX after accidents

After twenty months of waiting, the Boeing 737 MAX returned to the sky for a smooth commercial flight operated by the Brazilian company Gol, on Wednesday, from Sao Paulo to Porto Alegre.

The aircraft has undergone modifications and numerous tests since two air disasters that killed a total of 346 people in 2018 and 2019, which led to a major crisis for the American aeronautical giant.

” Glory to God! », Exclaimed a passenger when the wheels of the aircraft touched the tarmac, for a soft landing, after 1h30 of flight.

1st commercial flight without incident for the 737 MAX after accidents

“It was a good flight,” Naiara Providello, another traveler, told AFP reporters who were on board.

“I did not know the history of this plane. They could have warned us, but everything went well, ”she added.

1st commercial flight without incident for the 737 MAX after accidents

Gol had however given the possibility to any passenger who did not feel comfortable with the idea of ​​boarding a 737 MAX to “postpone their trip without charge and without price difference”, according to a spokesperson. the company.

Masks and Bossa Nova

But most travelers didn’t know they were on a Boeing 737 MAX, let alone that it was the plane’s very first flight in 20 months.

“It’s good to know,” said before takeoff a passenger who was traveling with his partner. “But if the plane is there, it’s safe, isn’t it? “

Two crew members, who preferred to remain anonymous, told AFP they were “very moved” to take part in this world premiere and assured that they were certain that “everything would go perfectly ”.

“Even Delta and American have yet to resume (commercial) flights. It’s a big responsibility for Gol, ”said an employee of Brazil’s leading domestic flight company.

With seven crew members and a capacity of 186 passengers, the flight was 88% full, according to a flight attendant.

On the plane, the atmosphere was good-natured, the travelers, all masked in these times of coronavirus, letting themselves be rocked before take off by a gentle rhythm of Bossa Nova.

“I’m not afraid to take the plane. I wasn’t aware of the accidents, but it doesn’t scare me, even if it’s only my second plane trip, ”said Pedro de Lima, a 14-year-old.

New orders

Despite the carelessness of the passengers, the two tragic accidents close to Lion Air (189 dead in October 2018) and Ethiopian Airlines (157 dead in March 2019) plunged Boeing into a deep crisis, aggravated this year by the coronavirus pandemic , which devastated the entire airline industry.

In total, the 737 MAX suffered from 653 order cancellations in 2019 and 2020 worldwide and Boeing must now convince of the reliability of its aircraft.

Last November, the American and then Brazilian authorities finally gave the green light for the return to service, after several modifications to the aircraft and the establishment of specific training for pilots.

“Over the past 20 months, we have carried out the most comprehensive safety reviews in the history of commercial aviation. Safety first, ”said Celso Ferrer, Gol operations manager, quoted in a statement.

Modifications were made in particular to the MCAS anti-stall system which had been involved in the two disasters.

The Gol company said 140 of its pilots had been trained in the United States to fly the 737 MAX and that its entire fleet of seven aircraft of this model would be returned to service by the end of the year. year.

Gol also plans to expand its fleet of 737 Max: the airline “has 95 firm (purchase) orders with Boeing,” in addition to 20 planes that are in the United States awaiting delivery.

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