After a two-year grounding due to safety concerns, the Boeing 737 MAX is gradually returning to service. Air China, China’s flag carrier, announced on March 1st, 2021, that it had resumed flights with the 737 MAX. Air China is the latest Chinese carrier to reintroduce the aircraft into its fleet, joining China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines.
The Background of the 737 MAX Grounding
The Boeing 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two deadly crashes involving the aircraft. The crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia claimed the lives of 346 people and led to investigations into the aircraft’s safety systems. The crashes were linked to a faulty sensor that caused the aircraft’s anti-stall system to malfunction, leading to the aircraft’s nose diving.
The long grounding period allowed Boeing to update the aircraft’s software and hardware systems and make improvements to the aircraft’s safety features. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and other aviation regulators worldwide have cleared the 737 MAX to resume commercial operations following rigorous testing and safety checks.
Air China’s Resumption of Boeing 737 MAX Flights
Air China is the latest Chinese airline to resume 737 MAX flights after China Eastern Airlines and China Southern Airlines resumed services in late 2020. Air China currently has four 737 MAX aircraft in its fleet and plans to add an additional eight aircraft by the end of 2021.
Air China has stated that it will gradually increase the number of 737 MAX flights and will prioritize domestic routes. The airline will also offer passengers the option to switch to another aircraft if they are uncomfortable flying on the 737 MAX.
The Importance of the 737 MAX to Chinese Airlines
The 737 MAX is a popular aircraft among Chinese airlines due to its fuel efficiency and lower operating costs. The grounding of the aircraft was a significant blow to Chinese airlines, particularly as they were expanding their fleets to meet the growing demand for air travel in China.
The resumption of 737 MAX flights is good news for Chinese airlines as they recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the aviation industry. The aircraft’s fuel efficiency and lower operating costs will help airlines reduce their costs and increase profitability, particularly on domestic routes.
The resumption of 737 MAX flights by Air China is a significant milestone in the aircraft’s return to service. Chinese airlines, like airlines worldwide, are eager to take advantage of the aircraft’s fuel efficiency and lower operating costs to help them recover from the impact of the pandemic on the aviation industry. While some passengers may still be wary of flying on the 737 MAX, the aircraft’s safety features have been improved, and aviation regulators worldwide have cleared the aircraft to return to commercial service.