The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has commenced the Boeing 737 MAX certification flights on Monday following their approval of Boeing’s system safety assessment. The test flights will run for at least three days simulating a series of potential emergency scenarios.
In preparation for today’s flighy, Boeing has conducted dozens of test flights with its 737 MAX 7 aircraft bearing the registration N7201S, and most recently using call sign BOE701.
The Boeing 737 MAX aircraft was grounded worldwide in March 2019 following two deadly crashes that killed 346 people on the flights.
Today’s test flight represents a milestone for Boeing which suffered financially from the worldwide groundings and lawsuits from family of the victims of Lion Air flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302.
Accident investigators blamed faults in the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which Boeing has been modifying since the crashes to meet new safety demands.
The original system is believed to have overridden the pilots’ commands and forced both aircraft into catastrophic dives.
Today’s test flight followed months of delay after investigations uncovered an array of new safety issues.
Following the certification flights, it could take weeks to analyse data, and if successful, further flying, training of pilots, and certification from European and Canadian regulators will be needed.
A final review of all of the changes to the 737 MAX will also take place before the FAA eventually issues an Airworthiness Directive with instructions for operators of existing 737 MAX aircraft. Then the FAA will remove the grounding order.