After a 22-month absence, a controversial plane long absent from the skies of Tampa has finally landed in Tampa.
Boeing’s 737 Max landed at Tampa International Airport shortly before 2 p.m. Tuesday, a direct flight from Miami that marks the craft’s first local commercial flight since March 2019.
The US Federal Aviation Administration had grounded the craft due to safety concerns following two fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed nearly 350 people.
After a thorough safety review, the 737 Max was cleared to resume commercial flights last fall, with American Airlines launching daily services between Miami and New York in late December. American was the carrier that brought the plane back to Tampa on 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 to Tampa, which landed minutes ahead of schedule.
In February, United Airlines will become the second carrier to resume 737 Max service to Tampa with daily connections to and from Houston. Southwest Airlines, Tampa International’s largest carrier, said it does not plan to resume 737 Max flights until March.