Boeing 737 Max: Brazilian airline resumes passenger flights

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Image source, Reuters
Image caption,
Boeing 737 Max aircraft were grounded in March 2019

Brazil's Gol has become the first airline to resume commercial flights with the Boeing 737 Max.

The plane had been grounded worldwide since March 2019 following two deadly crashes which killed 346 people.

But following an overhaul, the first passenger flight took off from Gol's hub in São Paulo on a flight to the city of Porto Alegre.

Gol had earlier said that 140 of its pilots had undergone training on the overhauled plane in the US.

So far, only the US and Brazil have recertified the jet.

Gol, the biggest domestic airline in Brazil, has seven Boeing 737 Max planes which it plans to use on 27 commercial domestic flights.

Boeing was forced to take the 737 Max out of service following two crashes within five months of each other, which together killed 346 people.

The aircraft manufacturer has since implemented a series of modifications including updating flight control software, revising crew procedures and rerouting internal wiring.

Gol's vice-president for operations, Celso Ferrer, said he had full confidence in the plane's safety following the modifications.

"For the past 20 months, we have been carrying out the most intensive safety review in the history of commercial aviation. Safety comes first and foremost," he wrote in a statement.

Media caption,
Zipporah Kuria's father Joseph Waithaka was one of 157 people killed when a Boeing 737 Max crashed in March 2019

A company spokesman told AFP news agency that passengers could reschedule at no extra cost if they did not want to travel on the Boeing 737 Max.

"They will be able to reschedule the trip without fees or fare difference, maintaining the same origin and destination, within the validity period for the ticket, which is 12 months from the date of purchase," the spokesman said.

The resumption of commercial flights is a boost for Boeing. As well as being the first commercial airline to use the Boeing 737 Max on commercial routes, Gol also confirmed it had 95 standing orders for the 737 Max with Boeing.