The 737 MAX's certification test flights are a key moment in Boeing's worst-ever corporate crisis which has been compounded by the novel coronavirus pandemic.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States confirmed on June 28 that it had approved certification test flights for the grounded Boeing 737 MAX that could begin as soon as June 29.
Boeing’s 737 MAX has been grounded since March 2019 after two fatal crashes killed 346 people. The crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia triggered lawsuits, investigations by Congress and the Department of Justice and cut off a key source of Boeing's cash.
In an email to Congress, the FAA said its Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) Board had completed its review “clearing the way for flight certification testing to begin. Flights with FAA test pilots could begin as early as tomorrow, evaluating Boeing’s proposed changes to the automated flight control system on the 737 MAX”.
The email notes that the “FAA has not made a decision on return to service” and has a number of additional steps.
The test is a key moment in Boeing's worst-ever corporate crisis which has been compounded by the novel coronavirus pandemic that has let to plummeting demand for jets and air travel.
The crew will run methodically scripted mid-air scenarios such as steep-banking turns, progressing to more extreme manoeuvres on a route primarily over Washington state, Reuters reported citing sources.
The plan over at least three days could include touch-and-go landings at the eastern Washington airport in Moses Lake, and a path over the Pacific Ocean coastline, adjusting the flight plan and timing as needed for weather and other factors.
Pilots will also intentionally trigger the reprogrammed stall-prevention software known as MCAS faulted in both crashes, and aerodynamic stall conditions.(With inputs from Reuters)