(CNN)— Will you take a Boeing 737 MAX? This problem will become more and more realistic for passengers in the near future when the plane that has been grounded for about 600 days is put back into service.
The 737 MAX was grounded in March 2019, after colliding with each other twice in the previous five months, killing 346 people.
Now, all signs indicate that after the changes required by the regulatory agency, the aircraft has been certified and will soon be put back into service in the United States.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) administrator Steve Dickson (Steve Dickson) said earlier this week that the review of design changes may be “completed in the next few days,” and the regulatory process from there It is expected to be relatively simple.
2020 is an unprecedented new normal, and of course, the current state of Washington, DC is no exception. However, even if the FAA adheres to this timetable, it is no exaggeration to say that the aviation industry has no road map to convince passengers that the world̵
Some airlines, including American Airlines, have already begun selling tickets on MAX (although in this case, it is a daily round trip).
American Airlines spokesperson Curtis Blessing said: “Even if the plan changes, our customers will be able to easily identify whether they are flying on a 737 MAX aircraft.” “The type of aircraft will be visible on the booking route, if the schedule is Changes will be notified.”
At the same time, Southwest Airlines-which had the largest MAX fleet in the United States before the grounding-said it would take longer, suggesting that it would take three to four months from the legal grounding to the restoration of service.
Mike Van de Ven, chief operating officer of the Southwest region, said on an industry earnings conference call in October: “We have extensive experience in aircraft operations. This is our most cost-effective aircraft. This is our most reliable aircraft. Environmentally friendly aircraft, this is our most comfortable aircraft. Therefore, we look forward to flying again.”
However, arguments that may reassure investors are unlikely to convince passengers.
A Boeing 737 MAX piloted by FAA Administrator Steve Dickson took off during a test flight in Seattle on September 30.
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
Making passengers feel comfortable is a difficult task
Fundamentally, one part of convincing passengers that MAX is safety is that there is no script on how to do this. The other is that the aviation and civil aviation industries do not like to talk about safety.
A large part of the population has already experienced some form of fear of flying and they do not want to increase these numbers.
The safety movement is also likely to exacerbate passenger concerns: If Boeing and the airlines operating the 737 MAX go all out for a public relations boom-costly, and the biggest recession in history will never be the time-they risked reminding people of the airplane problem Or make people who did not watch the news two years ago realize their risks.
Addison Schonland, a partner at the American aviation analysis company AirInsight Group, explained: “Boeing must worry about the unintended consequences of talking about safety.”
The Southwest Airlines 737 MAX plane stopped in California in March 2019.
Mario Domo/Getty Images
Indeed, airlines have been formulating strategies for some time on how to balance the use of their MAX aircraft in need. In fact, some (or even many) passengers do not want to fly.
Considering that the Covid-19 crisis has relieved the pressure on the existing fleet, airlines still have some leeway to avoid becoming the first movers, but at some point, certain airlines will have to take the lead in putting the MAX back into operation.
The interest of regulators, media and passengers will reach unprecedented heights.
We live in the 2020s. Almost everyone who flies has a mobile phone to record what is happening, and only one passenger is needed to spread the virus. At the same time, the overworked gate agent refuses or cannot rebook. And sobbing in fear while riding the 737 MAX. Will cause serious image problems-not to mention the first time the 737 MAX is transferred or returned to the departure airport to solve relatively conventional problems.
In addition to implementing any public relations leaps and bounds, you can expect most airlines to develop a policy (openly or quietly) that allows passengers who do not want to fly on the 737 MAX to change their tickets for free.
So, when is AirInsight’s Schonland ready to use the 737 MAX?
He said: “I won’t answer for the time being. Maybe I have to wait for how it works. I am pretty sure that the revised MAX will be a better aircraft in terms of system and safety.”
“But,” Schonland concluded, he “is not in a rush to try.”
A Boeing 737 MAX aircraft is pictured on the company’s production line in Renton, Washington in March 2019.
Stephen Brashear/Getty Images
Boeing has another problem: the rest of the world
Crucially, Boeing not only needs to convince Americans or American regulators.
After investigating Boeing, its regulatory agency FAA, and the relationship between them, including the report of the U.S. Housing and Transportation Commission, the report clearly stated: “Boeing has failed in the design and development of MAX. FAA is monitoring Boeing and its Certification of aircraft”-international aviation safety regulatory agencies insist on making up their minds.
In addition to the key decisions of the European aviation regulatory agencies, EASA and the Civil Aviation Administration of China, in major countries such as Australia, Canada, Japan, Singapore and the UAE, certification by smaller independent regulatory agencies is also crucial.
In addition to the basic safety certification duties of the General Administration of Civil Aviation, China is also interested in developing its self-developed passenger aircraft program. The in-depth analysis of the program will help MAX’s system. Of course, Boeing is very useful for the White House or the next White House.
But the problem Boeing faces is even more daunting: persuading passengers that the basic flaws of the 737 MAX have been resolved and resolved, and will not make them the 347th person to die on this plane.
AirInsight’s Schonland said that in the position of the manufacturer, the top priority of the Boeing 737 MAX plan should be “FAA certification, the aircraft should be updated to meet certification requirements and delivered in order.”
However, part of the problem revolves around the needs of airlines, and the demand for Covid-19 has been at a historical low, and for the aircraft and many experts and passengers that have been under severe investigation for two years, this demand is even greater. low. Don’t believe in safety.
It will be a brave airline, and it hopes to be the first to stand out in the industry and put MAX back into use.
John Walton is an international transport and aviation journalist in France, specializing in airlines, commercial aircraft and passenger experiences.