Following two fatal crashes and 20 months on the ground, the Boeing 737 Max has been cleared to fly in the US. The FAA said Wednesday that a review process was complete and the plane could take to the skies—but only after necessary changes are made, pilots receive simulator training, and each individual plane is inspected. American Airlines is the only US airline preparing to fly the 737 Max this year, with a daily roundtrip flight between New York and Miami set to begin on Dec. 29, per the AP. Southwest isn't expected to fly its 34 jets until the spring, per CNN Business. Foreign regulators are still conducting reviews, though European regulators are likely to follow the FAA's lead, per the AP. There are a total of 387 737 Max jets owned by 59 airlines worldwide. All were grounded in March 2019 following the crashes of Max jets operated by Ethiopian Airlines and Indonesia's Lion Air.
All passengers and crew—346 people—were killed in the crashes, caused when a safety feature meant to stop the plane from stalling forced the nose of the planes down. "Those conditions can no longer happen," FAA Administrator Steve Dickson tells CNBC, adding he "would put my own family on [the Max]." Unfortunately for Boeing, "redemption comes in the middle of a pandemic that has … decimated the aviation industry," per the AP. The company has already spent more than $20 billion to address the issue, while seeing orders for 1,000 Max jets canceled or removed from its backlog. Though it doesn’t get fully paid until planes are delivered—and there have been no deliveries in 20 months—Boeing has continued building. Indeed, it's "borrowed billions of dollars at a roughly 5% interest rate" to produce 450 Max jets, only half of which will be delivered in 2021, reports CNN. (A House committee faulted Boeing and the FAA for the aircraft's design.)