With the Boeing 737 Max returning to the skies in the US, it’s only a matter of time before UK travellers find themselves on board one of the aircraft. All we need is for lockdown to be lifted, other countries to remove their travel restrictions, and airlines to offer services that utilise the controversial jets… OK, so we might be waiting a while. Nevertheless, the Max is coming to British skies, slowly but surely. Here’s everything you need to know about it. Why is it controversial? The Max was launched to much fanfare in 2017, and billed as the short-haul plane of the future, but was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after 346 people died in two crashes: Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. A faulty flight-control system that forced down the nose of the plane was implicated in both crashes. These problems have now been addressed, the Max has US Federal Aviation Authority approval, and on Tuesday American Airlines relaunched passenger flights using the aircraft with a trip from Miami to New York, the first step in its plans to gradually reintroduce the model. So is the jet safe? That’s the opinion of US aviation authorities, and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is expected to give it the green light in the new year, paving the way for European airlines to start flying the Max. The process could be slow, however, as all carriers are required to complete fresh pilot training before taking passengers. An incident involving a Max last week further heightened scrutiny around the jet’s return, with an Air Canada aircraft on a test flight forced to make an unscheduled landing after suffering engine trouble. As well as the software changes, Boeing’s chief executive, Dave Calhoun, has said the company has improved its safety practices and culture since the fatal crashes. “We will never forget the lives lost in the two tragic accidents that led to the decision to suspend operations,” he said. “These events and the lessons we have learned as a result have reshaped our company and further focused our attention on our core values of safety, quality and integrity.” As things stand, the Max has one of the poorest safety records of any passenger aircraft, ever. Boeing has already delivered 387 Max units and they have already been used on an estimated 650,000 commercial flights since the very first one, a Malindo Air service, took off on May 22, 2017. That’s an average of just 3.08 fatal accidents per million flights. Most people would consider that a very small number, but in the ultra-safe modern age of flying, it isn’t. According to Boeing’s own statistics, which include all jet services from 1959 to 2017, the rest of the 737 “Next Generation” family has a combined fatal accident rate of just 0.08 per million departures.