United is bringing the Boeing 737 Max back into commercial service after being grounded

A United Airlines Boeing 737 Max 9 aircraft lands at San Francisco International Airport in Burlingame, California on March 13, 2019.

Justin Sullivan | Getty Images

United Airlines put the Boeing 737 Max back into service on Thursday. The second U.S. airline to return the plane after two fatal crashes resulted in a global landing in 2019.

The Federal Aviation Administration suspended its 20-month landing of the aircraft in November after Boeing made software and other safety changes to its bestseller. The resumption of deliveries last year was a relief for Boeing. Grounding planes starved money, a crisis compounded by the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on jetliner demand.

United Flight 1864, the airline’s first Max passenger flight since landing, took off from its Denver hub and arrived in Houston at 11:23 a.m. local time. United has about 550 flights on the Max this month and about 2,000 scheduled for March. The Chicago-based airline expects to deliver 24 Max aircraft this year and had 14 in its fleet at the time of landing in March 2019.

American Airlines became the first US airline in December to return aircraft to commercial service with flights from its Miami hub. The Brazilian airline Gol was the first airline in the world to resume flights with the Max last year. Southwest Airlines and Alaska Airlines plan to fly Max planes next month.

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