PHOENIX - Boeing's 737 MAX airliners are in the air once again.
According to the Associated Press, the 737 MAX was grounded globally in March 2019, after two crashes involving the plane model in Ethiopia and Indonesia. In all, 346 died in the two crashes. Following the grounding, extensive testing took place in order for the jets to be recertified and deemed safe to fly.
Scott Hamilton, an aviation consultant with Leeham Company in the State of Washington, says it was a rigorous process to locate the problems within the airliner.
"It's been a 20-month process to locate the problems in the system, with a system called MCAS to control the airplane when the nose rises in certain conditions," said Hamilton, referring to the plane's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System. "During that investigation, they found other problems that needed to be fixed that were unrelated to the crashes."
Hamilton says the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) applied unprecedented scrutiny to re-certify the aircraft in order to send it back into the skies, with the understanding that many people may be skeptical of flying the plane because of the history and the shortcomings that came from the investigation.
"What's important here is that Transport Canada and the Brazilian regulator were all looking over the FAA's shoulders to make sure that they are going to be satisfied with the recertification process, and that the fixes are sound and proper," said Hamilton.
In the United States, American Airlines resumed flights with the plane a week ago, and will soon put the jet into the rotation for Phoenix Sky Harbor Airport.
On Jan. 5, FOX 10 received a statement from American Airlines officials on the plane's return.
"We are taking a phased approach to return the Boeing 737 MAX to service. We expect to gradually phase more 737 MAX aircraft into revenue service with up to 38 departures depending on the day of the week through mid-February. From mid-February through early March, there will up to 91 departures depending on the day of the week," the statement read.
As the airliner returns to the sky, travelers' opinions are split, with some feeling skeptical, but others not worried at all.
"I trust the federal government to assure that the safety of the flying public is ensured, and I believe that Boeing's done a good job to solve the problem," said one traveler.
"I think I'd probably rebook," said another traveler. "I don't think I'd feel comfortable with them putting them back out on the runways."