Brazilian airline GOL is set to become the first airline in the world to fly passengers on the Boeing 737 MAX in almost two years on Wednesday.
Brazil’s largest domestic airline, GOL has said it will use the MAX on routes to and from its hub in São Paulo, the nation’s largest city, although it did not disclose the exact route that will be taken on its first flights.
Embracing a similar policy to American Airlines, passengers scheduled to fly on the 737 MAX will be informed prior to their flight, and will be allowed to exchange their tickets free of charge should they not wish to board.
So far, Brazil’s aviation regulator is the only body to clear the aircraft for commercial use following the US Federal Aviation Administration’s decision to do so on 18 November.
Regulators in Europe, Canada and China remain somewhat hesitant on reinstating the MAX, which was grounded around the globe following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people.
GOL has seven MAX aircraft, and expects to have all seven back in service by the end of December. The airline has an additional 95 MAX planes on order, and is scheduled to take delivery of those aircraft between 2022 and 2032.
Under the recertification rules of the FAA, the aircraft must undergo mandatory upgrades to its software, while pilots must complete additional safety training on MAX simulators, prior to being allowed to fly the planes commercially.
GOL said it is confident that the changes made to the plane during its 20-month grounding make it safe to fly, and that it had already completed the additional training requirements on 140 of its MAX pilots.
“We are pleased about the return of the Boeing 737 MAX to our network,” GOL CEO Paulo Kakinoff said.
“The MAX is one of the most efficient aircraft in aviation history and the only one to undergo a complete recertification process, ensuring the highest levels of safety and reliability. We reiterate our trust in Boeing.”
Meanwhile, Landon Loomis, Boeing’s managing director in Brazil, said, “It is a pleasure to be partners with GOL in reaching this important milestone and we look forward to what is yet to come in our partnership.”
It’s the latest in a series of much needed wins for US planemaker Boeing, following European budget carrier Ryanair’s announcement of an additional 75 737 MAX aircraft orders, as well as impending deliveries to be made to major US customers American Airlines and United Airlines.