PRAGUE – Air carrier Smartwings has resumed flights with Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. The first 737 MAX has been deployed today for Smartwings flight QS1152 to Malaga, Spain, taking off from Prague at 16:20. This has been the first commercial flight with passengers since March 2019 when all Boeing 737 MAX airliners were grounded globally. Prior to their deployment, the aircraft underwent all required upgrades and checks, and the airline conducted a test flight without passengers. Smartwings has seven Boeing 737 MAX 8 airplanes in its fleet and would like to make other six of them operational before the start of the summer season.
“Safety of the passengers and the crew is our utmost priority. No other aircraft has ever undergone such thorough safety inspections as Boeing 737 MAX in the history of aviation. We believe that trust in this aircraft will be restored very soon,” says Roman Vik, Board member and CEO, Smartwings.
The aircraft was flown by Captain Tomas Nevole, Head of Flight Operations at Smartwings, and Captain Adam Bednarik.
“We have been working with EASA and the manufacturer continuously for nearly two years to bring this aircraft safely back to operation. I have confidence in the upgrades and training methods to enable a return of this aircraft into operation. I fully trust Boeing 737 MAX and I consider it as one of the safest airplanes,” says Tomas Nevole, Head of Flight Operations, Smartwings.
Smartwings is planning to deploy Boeing 737 MAX planes for flights originating from Prague, Tel Aviv, Warsaw, and Bratislava heading for the Canary Islands, Cape Verde, Madeira, UAE, Oman, Morocco, Portugal, and other destinations.
Boeing 737 MAX was declared safe to return to service by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) at the end of January. Making each aircraft operable includes pilot training, implementation of a package of software and hardware upgrades and other activities in accordance with EASA requirements. Each aircraft will undergo an operation readiness flight before returning to service.
Smartwings included the first Boeing 737 MAX 8 in its fleet at the end of January 2018 and was one of the first airlines in Central and Eastern Europe to operate this type of aircraft. Boeing 737 MAX offers a lot of advantages over other types of aircraft: a longer range, more efficient operation, lower fuel consumption, and greater comfort for passengers. The plane is 14% more efficient than the current generation of Boeing 737NG and presents a lesser environmental burden. The noise footprint is also significantly smaller (by up to 40 %).
Smartwings is one of the leading providers of charter flight in Central Europe. Besides the Czech Republic, where Smartwings also offers regular flights to dozens of destinations, the company operates flights from a number of airports in France, Poland, Hungary, Slovakia, and the Canary Islands.