By Stacey Leasca
May 23, 2019
Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

In March, a second Boeing 737 Max 8 plane tragically crashed, killing all 157 people on board. In the days following the crash, airline after airline and country after country grounded the aircraft, until finally every single 737 Max 8 sat idly at airports around the world.

But now, just a few short months later, Boeing is hoping to get the planes back off the ground and United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz says he’s willing to be the first to get back on board.

On May 16, Boeing released a statement declaring it had completed a software update on the aircraft along with associated simulator testing and the company’s engineering test flight.

“With safety as our clear priority, we have completed all of the engineering test flights for the software update and are preparing for the final certification flight,” Boeing Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Dennis Muilenburg said in the statement. “We’re committed to providing the FAA and global regulators all the information they need, and to getting it right. We’re making clear and steady progress and are confident that the 737 MAX with updated MCAS software will be one of the safest airplanes ever to fly. The accidents have only intensified our commitment to our values, including safety, quality and integrity, because we know lives depend on what we do.”

Now all that’s left to do is have the FAA recertify the planes so they can fly commercially once again. And when they are United will be ready.

On Wednesday, Munoz said he’s going to be on the first flight back with the planes to assure customers the aircraft is safe.

“Just because somebody says it’s safe, you as the flying public aren’t just going to get on the aircraft,” Munoz told the press following United’s annual meeting with shareholders.

According to the CEO, the airline will work diligently to educate both customers and employees on the aircraft’s upgrades to ensure they feel safe. But, if passengers want to change planes, the company said it will be willing to do so.

“If people need any kind of adjustments, we will absolutely rebook them,” he said.

And Munoz won’t be alone on that first flight. American Airlines CEO Doug Parker also told NBC he would be on the flight.

“There’s an absolute fix,” Parker said about the Boeing 737 Max. “There's one that we will all be comfortable with, or the aircraft won't be recertified. And our pilots are gonna agree with that, or the aircraft won't fly."

He added, “If that airplane has been certified by the FAA, and it's being flown by American pilots or Southwest pilots or United pilots, we all will know that it's 100 percent safe to fly.”  

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