American Airlines CEO Flies On The 737 MAX

Filed Under: American

At the end of December, American Airlines will resume scheduled passenger flights with the 737 MAX, following the plane being “ungrounded” by the FAA. Ahead of that, the airline is trying to convince both employees and customers that the plane is safe to fly. The first major step towards that was taken last night.

American executives fly the 737 MAX

Last night, a Boeing 737 MAX operated a 57-minute flight from Tulsa to Dallas, with the flight number AA9750. This wasn’t a regularly scheduled flight, but it did have some guests onboard.

Specifically, American Airlines executives were onboard, including Doug Parker (CEO) and his wife, as well as Robert Isom (President).

The 737 MAX that operated the flight (N308RD) was delivered to American in December 2017. Yesterday it first operated a roughly two hour test flight to & from Tulsa, which was the first flight that the plane had taken since it was grounded in March 2019. That was followed by the flight to Dallas.

Parker shared pictures of the flight on his Instagram, with the following caption:

For 20 months, Boeing 737 MAX aircraft around the world have been grounded. Our hearts go out to the families of the victims whose lives have been lost, and we will never forget the tragedy that changed their lives forever.

In our industry, safety comes above all else. When that safety is in question, we band together to improve. Now, after the most extensive safety review in commercial aviation history, the 737 MAX has been recertified.

Today, @AmericanAir took our first 737 MAX aircraft back up in the air. In partnership with @AlliedPilots, @APFAUnity, @Boeing, @FAA, our Tech Ops experts and countless others, teams have worked diligently to prepare the aircraft to safely return to service.

I’ve long said that when American Airlines pilots – who are the best in the business – are comfortable and confident in flying the MAX, so am I. So today, along with my wife Gwen, American’s President Robert Isom and many others, we boarded the MAX at our Tulsa maintenance base with the utmost peace of mind.

Customers will see the MAX slowly phased into service starting at the end of December with a daily roundtrip from Miami. Until then, many thanks to American’s pilots, flight attendants, Tech Ops team and safety experts who worked tirelessly to get this right for the flying public.

American Airlines executives flying on the 737 MAX comes ahead of the company offering five 737 MAX flights to nowhere over the coming weeks for employees, intended to boost confidence in the plane before customers are put on it.

Kudos to Parker & Isom for this

As I’ve said before, I’d personally feel comfortable flying the 737 MAX, so I don’t consider it a great sign of bravery to get on the plane (arguably it’s much braver to fly in the Oasis configuration, rather than the 737 MAX as such). 😉 That being said, to my knowledge Parker is the first major industry CEO to “publicly” fly the 737 MAX in this way, and that’s commendable, I think.

Someone correct me if I’m wrong, but I don’t believe Boeing’s CEO has even flown the 737 MAX (let alone with his family) since it was announced the plane was certified again.

While I do think this is a nice gesture, to me these types of flights are ultimately pretty meaningless. The safety of the 737 MAX will be determined by the lack of incidents across thousands of flights and years, rather than any airline being able to operate a few flights and saying “see, we landed safely!”

But as humans we’re not always rational, and I know some people do feel comforted when they see something like this happen successfully.

Bottom line

American Airlines’ CEO flew on a 737 MAX last night from Tulsa to Dallas. This comes ahead of the airline operating several 737 MAX flights for employees, and then reintroducing the 737 MAX into regularly scheduled service as of December 29.

  1. Courageous of him!!

    Because of the 2 back to back crashes it will be always a jittery experience when flying the MAX more so as the airplane company has only done some software changes as corrective measures.There are serious financial implications riding on the successful and safe return to the skies for the MAX. The airlines should just hope that people forget with time and start flying the MAX and also there are no more mishaps

    Is there a precedent in the aviation industry that there have been crashes on a new model related to manufacturing defect and then the airplane company has rectified and pressed into service the same aircraft and there has been no issues since?

  2. The continual dumbing down of people just amazes me. These same people that act like they’re being put on a cropduster have no issue driving to the airport, in which they are far, far, far more likely to be involved in an accident of injury or death. The plane has been re-certified after nearly 2 years of being out service. What do these same imbeciles think what went on during the near 2 years?

  3. Dog and Pony Show. Did they squeeze into the cramped coach seats? Did they squeeze into the restrooms? Of course not. The Parker Clown should fly the plane from LAX to JFK in the back of the plane. That will wipe the grin off of his face.

  4. I don’t get everyone’s big deal with the MAX configuration at AA or Lucky’s constant sniping about it.
    Delta has been flying around all remodeled airbus with 30” pitch for a long time and with two tiny lavs + galley all crammed into the back wall of the plane.
    At least the AA Max has 37” first class pitch unlike these Delta examples with 35-37”. Or 35-36” pitch.

  5. The situation that caused the crash of the Lion Air and Ethiopian aircraft cannot happen again. The MCAS, which is designed to auto-correct the aircraft’s tendency to pitch-up due to the placement of the engines farther forward and higher than previous 737 models, previously relied on data from only one of the two aircraft attitude sensors on the aircraft. If that sensor failed, the MCAS was being fed incorrect pitch information and attempted to correct for a problem that did not exist. Now, it will receive data from both attitude sensors and has been programmed to deactivate when it receives inconsistent data. Plus, the pilots will be much more aware of this issue than they were previously and will be trained, in a simulator, to handle it. There will always be a black mark against the aircraft – as there was with the DC-10 – but there is no reason to think that the issue has not been fixed.

  6. I have no problem with flying the Max on an american carrier. I have a problem with the Oasis if there are other options which there always is flying out of DFW. I wouldnt hesitate for a second to fly a SW Max right now as those were great to fly before the grounding.

  7. The MAX is a bargain brand airliner at this point. And your experience on it will match that designation. Is it safe? At this point it probably is, despite being an aerodynamic ugly duckling. But it still has a fuselage with the same diameter as the 1958-vintage 707 and it is most commonly being equipped with high density interiors, as it was sold to airlines as a money saver. Add that all up and you’re looking at a cramped and miserable ride to wherever you are going. Especially on AA. Any criticism or derision directed at their crap Oasis interior configuration is very well deserved. And I’d like to see their CEO ride from MIA-SEA in seat 35B of one of these.

    And I will try to avoid it like the plague, because I don’t want to die – of DVT.

  8. Stop badgering the small toliets on American. I fly Alaska quite a bit and they in fact have put the same tiny toilets in some their planes as well. I am sure Delta and United have also have

  9. @SS Courageous??? Lol….Courageous is all the test pilots who had to fly to get the aircraft re-certified. Imagine having to be the pilot who flew right after the software fix. Or those who flew the aircraft before the fix to maintenance locations. This is about as courageous as getting on any flight on any aircraft. To clarify I do think this is a good PR move. But let’s not get carried away.

  10. The type of people who are scared of the MAX are the same people scared of coronavirus.

    Suckers for media hype, and sensationalism beyond any and all logic and reason.
    Social media has turned people into lemmings begging for perfect safety. Just hysterical, do nothing types we demand things from their keyboards, because it feels good to get in your $.02.

    I’m stoked to fly on the first MAX, a new type for the logbook.
    I don’t know any person in my friend circle, who is paying the least attention to this, nor cares in the least about the type of plane they are on.

  11. @Geroge yes because when I get into a plane I often say there is a 1-2 percent chance of this killing me. You are correct that the media blows things out of proportion; however, comparing the odds of dying in a 737 max crash vs COVID 19 is ludicrous. You can be afraid of one without being afraid of the other. Although I do have a friend who is not afraid of COVID but is terrified of the 737 Max which to me is irrational.

  12. I encourage everyone to watch the 20/20 special on the plane. I am sure that the problems have been resolved and pose no further safety risk however I will not be flying one. Boeing needs to continue to feel the pain financially from their willful negligence regarding the MCAS system. The lives they ruined should not be forgotten and my voice is my pocket book.

  13. This is so funny. Sure there must be some rules on not allowing too many executives on the same flight in case of an accident? I mean …this is the case for so many companies 😀

  14. “kudos” to him? Are you kidding me? Parker let Boeing sell him a modern day Corvair, and is betting his company’s financial future on this lemon of a plane. By golly, he will defend his decision and say it is a great plane…until the next incident. This is all about “defending to the mattresses” a poor capital investment decision and not about safety or customers.

    Yes, I can still legally drive a Corvair or a Pinto, but would I?? Software fixes cannot always (& reliably) overcome poor aerodynamic design. What if the software has a bug, or the software crashes first (ala MS Office)?

    This engineer (who worked for decades for the leading avionics company) is saying “no way” to voluntarily get on the “Frankenstein” of a plane. My old girl friend’s Pinto is safer IMO.

  15. @SS The most notable example is probably the DC-10, which had an extremely rocky start, but went on to become a reliable aircraft and the base of the MD-11 successor. Both of which remain beloved freight aircraft for UPS and FedEx to this day.

    The problem for me, however, is a bit bigger. Seeing both of Boeing’s recently released aircraft (787 and 737MAX) either catching fire our straight-up killing hundreds of people, it’s becoming tough to trust Boeing aircraft going forward.

    They still refuse to acknowledge that the investor-first approach to aircraft engineering is a cultural problem that led them to this mess. That concerns me greatly.

  16. Flew on the 737 MAX 8 on AA six weeks before the model was grounded, in 2019. It is a miserable airplane in every way on AA. Tight configuration (it actually feels smaller than the 737-800 inside), the lavatories are ridiculous, and the plane inside feels cheaply built. I absolutely will avoid this plane when booking flights for the foreseeable future. Twin crashes, separated by just a few months, is a serious red flag and there are numerous design issues with the MAX, combined with the tainted certification process the first go around that make this plane a red herring for a long time to come.

  17. Let’s not forget that several airlines will resume the use of the 737-MAX because they are stuck. They signed contracts to buy and use these planes. Parker’s flight was simply a stunt – PR marketing.

    The 737-MAX is just an older plane that was elongated to stuff more passengers in it. Thus, a cheap money-making vehicle. From the very beginning, Boeing should’ve started a brand new design from scratch. Boeing was given a pass on approval to fly this again. Airlines that enable this might end up with regret.

  18. This issue won’t be settled until the managers at Boeing who created the Max problem are sitting in Super Max for their crimes.

  19. I cannot stand the comments about the risks of flying the MAX versus something like driving to an airport. Risk needs to always be weighed against satisfactory alternatives. Is flying the MAX riskier than driving or being driven in a car to the airport? No, but is walking, taking a train/subway a satisfactory alternative? For most people without access or time, the answer is also no.

    The fact is the MAX is not some ultra long haul airplane or a small plane flying to a remote destination, so it is not worth it to me because ANY other plane flying to my destination, which there will be several, are satisfactory alternatives.

  20. @SS The De Havilland comet(
    Square windows,skin too thin),The Lockheed Electra(Faulty wing spars) & the Mc Donnell Douglas DC-10 (Faulty cargo door latches)are types that had initial design faults that were fixed & the aircraft flew for successfully decades afterwards

  21. I don’t know why or how many people something like this do for or to them? I mean just cause some rich guy or important person gets on a plan or train or whatever it is why would this make someone feel safe? I mean really. Anytime a high profile person gets on something does it really have any effect? I mean they triple or quadruple the inspection or have screened the hell out of it just for that person. I think we all should know all the extra pre-cautions is not always made for the regular Joe.

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