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.
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.
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.