All about the Boeing 737 MAX: Safety, status and more

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FAA certifies the MAX to return to the skies

Nothing is more important to United than the safety of our customers and employees. After an extensive review process, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the Department of Transportation and other independent regulators and experts have certified the Boeing® 737 MAX to fly. Here, you’ll learn more about the certification process and why we are confident in the safety of the 737 MAX. See frequently asked questions

How we’re ensuring safety

United implemented the recommendations and directives from independent regulators, including FAA-mandated changes to the flight software, additional pilot training, and multiple test flights for each aircraft to ensure the planes are ready to fly. Each United MAX aircraft was also individually evaluated by our skilled pilots and aircraft technicians before returning to service. Read on to learn about these steps in more detail.

Pilot training

All United pilots who will fly the 737 MAX will undergo FAA-approved training to learn how the updated software will impact the flight controls and practice how to respond to scenarios they may encounter in the sky. The training includes:

  • Computer-based instruction
  • Hands-on training in a full-flight simulator
  • A systems briefing, checklist and quick-reference handbook

See what our pilots are saying about the MAX:

Test flights

United test pilots flew several test flights of each of our 737 MAX aircraft, and we conducted end-to-end reviews that included system checks and data readouts from our operations staff and technicians, combined with feedback from our 737 MAX test pilots themselves.

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More than 1,350 flights with the updated MCAS

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More than 2,600 flight hours

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Almost 400,000 engineering and test hours

 

Airworthiness assurance

Watch Boeing's short video to learn more:

Before: Single sensor

Originally, the aircraft’s maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS) relied on information from a single sensor to monitor the angle of the plane.

Now: Dual sensor

The flight control software will now compare inputs from two sensors before activating, rather than acting on a single sensor.

Before: Repeated activation of the MCAS system

In a few instances, the single sensor gave incorrect information to MCAS, causing it to activate repeatedly.

Now: One activation of the MCAS system

If the sensor signals MCAS to activate, it will only activate once. Pilots can always counter MCAS by pulling on the control column.

We are fully confident in the safety of the 737 MAX, in the updates, and in the work technicians performed while these planes were on the ground:

  • Updating the plane with the latest FAA-approved flight deck software
  • Rewiring the aircraft
  • Opening and inspecting the fuel tanks
  • Checking fluids, tires, avionics and engines
  • Cleaning every aircraft
  • Running the engines periodically to power the batteries
  • Cycling air in the cabin every four days

Frequently asked questions

  • The 737 MAX is the most technically advanced 737 that Boeing has ever produced. The 737 MAX has updated, fuel-efficient engines and a modern flight deck design. Its LEAP-1B engines provide much better fuel efficiency. The flight deck has also been upgraded with advanced avionics and a best-in-class weather radar system.

  • If you’re checking for future travel and have not yet booked, you can view the aircraft type on the Flight Search page under Details during booking. You can also check your aircraft type for existing reservations via My Trips.

    We do occasionally make aircraft changes in the days and weeks leading up to your flight, so if you’d like to avoid flying on the 737 MAX, please remember to check your aircraft type before you leave for the airport in case it has changed since you booked with us.

  • If you do not wish to fly on a MAX aircraft, you have the flexibility to change your flight with no change fee for most Economy and premium cabin tickets for flights within the U.S.; flights between the U.S. and Mexico or the Caribbean; or international flights originating in the U.S. Change fees are also waived for Basic Economy tickets issued by April 30 and all other standard tickets issued by May 31.

    You should feel completely confident that we have taken all the necessary steps to confirm that our 737 MAX aircraft are as safe as any of our aircraft flying today. Safety has been and always will be our top priority, and it’s something we will never compromise for any reason.

  • You can take the following steps to make changes online:

    1. On the united.com homepage, select "My Trips" and enter your flight information to retrieve your flight.
    2. Select "Change flight" and then "Edit" to make the following changes:
      • Date of travel
      • Add a flight
      • Remove a flight
    3. Select "Continue" and choose a new flight option
    4. Continue through booking to confirm your new flight

    If you booked your United flight on another channel or through a travel agency, please contact your original booking agent to change your flight or to obtain a refund.

  • If your new flight costs less than your original flight, you may receive a future flight credit for the fare difference.

  • Yes.

  • Please contact your original booking agent to change your flight or to obtain a refund.

  • If you choose to cancel your flight and rebook later, you’ll receive a future flight credit. Future flight credits are valid for travel within one year of your original ticket issue date.