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After long absence, Boeing’s 737 Max touches down safely in Tampa

The American Airlines flight from Miami marked the first local visit by the troubled aircraft since March 2019.
American Airlines flight 173 from Miami lands at Tampa International Airport at approximately 1:49 p.m. on Jan. 19, 2020. It's the first Boeing 737 Max to touch down in Tampa since the plane was grounded due to safety concerns in March 2019.
American Airlines flight 173 from Miami lands at Tampa International Airport at approximately 1:49 p.m. on Jan. 19, 2020. It's the first Boeing 737 Max to touch down in Tampa since the plane was grounded due to safety concerns in March 2019. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]
Published Jan. 19

After a 22-month absence, a controversial plane long absent from Tampa skies has finally touched back down in Tampa.

Boeing’s 737 Max touched down at Tampa International Airport just before 2 p.m. Tuesday, a direct flight from Miami that marks the craft’s first local commercial flight since March 2019.

A Boeing 737 Max, top, taxis to the gate at Tampa International Airport on Tuesday. The flight, American Airlines flight 173 from Miami, marked the first time a 737 Max has landed at TPA since the planes were mostly grounded since March 2019 due to safety concerns after deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.
A Boeing 737 Max, top, taxis to the gate at Tampa International Airport on Tuesday. The flight, American Airlines flight 173 from Miami, marked the first time a 737 Max has landed at TPA since the planes were mostly grounded since March 2019 due to safety concerns after deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration had grounded the craft due to safety concerns following two deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed nearly 350 people.

After an extensive safety review, the 737 Max was cleared to resume commercial flights last fall, with American Airlines launching daily routes between Miami and New York in late December. American was the carrier that brought the plane back to Tampa Tuesday afternoon, with two more 737 Max flights between Tampa and Miami scheduled by the end of the day.

A Boeing 737 Max, top, lands at Tampa International Airport on Tuesday, Jan. 19. The flight, American Airlines flight 173 from Miami, marked the first time a 737 Max has landed at TPA since the planes were mostly grounded since March 2019 due to safety concerns after deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.
A Boeing 737 Max, top, lands at Tampa International Airport on Tuesday, Jan. 19. The flight, American Airlines flight 173 from Miami, marked the first time a 737 Max has landed at TPA since the planes were mostly grounded since March 2019 due to safety concerns after deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia. [ CHRIS URSO | Times ]

Airport spokesman Danny Valentine said there were no problems with the plane’s first flight into Tampa, which landed a few minutes ahead of schedule.

In February, United Airlines will become the second carrier to resume 737 Max service in Tampa with daily routes to and from Houston. Southwest Airlines, Tampa International’s biggest carrier, has said it does not plan to resume 737 Max flights before March.