Brazil’s GOL Linhas Aereas announced that it would resume passenger flights on the Boeing 737 MAX as soon as December 9, 2020. As things stand, the Brazilian low-cost carrier would be the first airline to fly a commercial passenger flight on the type since its grounding in March 2019.
GOL will operate the Boeing 737 MAX on Brazil’s domestic routes from its São Paulo/Guarulhos International Airport (GRU) hub starting from December 9, 2020. By the end of the year, the airline plans to have all of its seven already-delivered 737 MAX aircraft ready for operations and will gradually reincorporate them into “flight schedules in alignment with its operational needs,” read the company’s press release.
In addition, there are 16 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft that are built, but yet not delivered to the low-cost carrier, planespotters.net data shows.
“Our first priority is always the safety of our customers,” stated Vice President of Operations at GOL Celso Ferrer. Ferrer, as the airline highlighted, regularly flies Boeing aircraft and “is already trained to fly the 737 MAX.”
“Over the past 20 months, we have watched the most comprehensive safety review in the history of commercial aviation unfold, bringing together regulatory agencies and airlines from around the world to monitor and contribute to the upgrades in aircraft systems and pilot training,” continued Ferrer.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) un-grounded the Boeing 737 MAX on November 18, 2020, following 20 months of groundings since the second fatal crash of the aircraft type in Ethiopia in March 2019. Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) cleared the MAX to fly eight days later. Much like in the US, prior to operating the Boeing 737 MAX, GOL Airlines had to prepare the aircraft to fly.
The process includes the installation of the newest software, physically separate wires that go from the cockpit towards the horizontal stabilizer trim motor, update the Aircraft Flight Manual (AFM), and test the Angle of Attack (AoA) sensor systems to make sure they work as outlined in the software update. Furthermore, pilots have to be trained on a Full Flight Simulator (FFS) to be able to fly the aircraft.
So far, the only other airline that has scheduled Boeing 737 MAX flights in 2020 is American Airlines (A1G) (AAL). The US-based airline has outlined that it would begin operations with the aircraft type on December 29, 2020, becoming the first carrier in the country to do so.