Commercial flights with Boeing 737 Max jetliners resumed Wednesday for the first time since they were grounded worldwide following two deadly crashes nearly two years ago.
Brazil’s Gol Airlines became the first in the world to return the planes to its active fleet, using a 737 MAX 8 on a flight from Sao Paulo to Porto Alegre, according to the flight tracking website Flightradar24.
The company’s own announcement didn’t specify the route of the flight.
Gol is set to start regular service on Dec. 18, according to aviation data firm Cirium, with several daily flights between Sao Paulo and other major Brazilian cities.
Customers will be able to exchange their tickets if they don’t want to fly on a 737 Max, a Gol spokesperson told The Associated Press in an email.
Gol, the country’s largest airline with 36 million passengers annually, owns seven 737 Max aircraft, according to Cirium. It is the only Brazilian company with the model in its fleet.
“The MAX is one of the most efficient aircraft in aviation history and the only one to undergo a complete recertification process,” Gol’s chief executive officer, Paulo Kakinoff, said in a statement earlier this week.
Canada yet to clear 737 Max to fly
The Boeing plane was grounded globally in March 2019, shortly after a 737 Max crashed in Ethiopia. A prior crash in Indonesia involving the model occurred in October 2018. In all, 346 people died.
Brazil’s aviation regulator lifted its restrictions on the 737 Max in November, clearing the way for the plane to resume flights in Latin America’s biggest country.
Similar restrictions have been lifted in the U.S. and Europe, where commercial flights with the plane are expected to resume soon, likely starting with American Airlines on Dec. 29.
WATCH | Canada holds off on clearing Boeing 737 Max 8 to fly:
FAA clears Boeing 737 Max 8 for takeoff, Canada holds off
21 days agoVideo
U.S. aviation authorities have cleared the Boeing 737 Max 8 to return to active service more than two years after a pair of crashes killed 346 people, but Transport Canada is holding off, despite assurances from the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing that the troubled MCAS computer system has been fixed.2:00
In Canada, Transport Minister Marc Garneau’s office told CBC News last week that no final decision on validating changes to the aircraft had been made yet and that the “commercial flight restrictions” remain in effect.
That came after Canadian families of crash victims say they took part in a video call with officials from the department who told them it could soon take the first step toward potentially clearing the aircraft to fly again.
Transport Canada has been working with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and received a directive listing changes to the aircraft.
Transport Canada’s safety experts have been doing their own independent review of those proposed changes to determine if the aircraft is safe to fly again.
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