American Airlines will offer employees the chance to fly on one of five charter flights on the Boeing 737 MAX, in an attempt to ease any concerns before the embattled jet returns to passenger flights in late December.
The planes that will be utilised in these charter offers have already undergone the necessary updates required by the US Federal Aviation Administration to end the 20-month grounding, American has said.
In granting approval for the MAX charters, the regulator also authorised American to begin revised pilot training before changes to its flight manual take effect on 22 December.
“We know that restoring our customers’ confidence in the 737 MAX starts with ensuring our own team members are comfortable,” the airline said in a message on its internal network.
American also said it’s planning opportunities for corporate customers to come and see the aircraft and ask any questions they might have.
The FAA cleared the MAX to resume flying on 18 November, ending a 20-month flying ban that followed two fatal crashes within five months.
The agency is mandating changes to a safety system linked to the accidents and fixes to other flaws discovered during months of reviews. New pilot training is also required.
American’s first one-hour employee flight is scheduled at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on 3 December.
Additional flights are set for Miami on 8 and 17 December, and for New York’s LaGuardia on 9 and 15 December.
The flights, which will take off and land in the same airport, are open to active American employees from any location, however the offer does not extend to retirees or workers’ relatives.
The charter flights follow a 2 December flight which carried reporters, employees, and executives between DFW and American’s maintenance base in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where some of the company’s MAX jets are being readied for service.
For the MAX’s commercial return, American has scheduled the first US service with single daily round trips between Miami and LaGuardia from 29 December through 4 January.
Company pilots were able to begin updated computer-based MAX training on 27 November, and will reportedly begin flight simulator sessions on 3 December.
Additional reporting by Airlinerwatch.