By David Shepardson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A key step in returning the Boeing 737 MAX to service on the ground could take place as early as next week, two people briefed on the matter said on Friday.
Boeing Co’s best-selling aircraft has been grounded since March 2019 after two fatal accidents that killed 346 people. A certification flight test, expected to last at least two days, is likely to take place starting Tuesday, but has not been finalized. The Federal Aviation Administration would need to approve new pilot training procedures and complete other steps, and would likely not approve the grounding of the plane until September, the sources said.
Sources said a decision on the timing of the FAA certification test flight could come later in the day on Friday.
Boeing shares fell 3% in midday trading.
The FAA has said it is “in regular contact with Boeing as the company continues its work on the 737 MAX … The aircraft will be cleared to return to passenger service only after the FAA is satisfied that all are addressed. security-related issues. “
Reuters reported on June 10 that Boeing was aiming to conduct a key certification test flight in late June.
Boeing also notified airlines of a solution to address safety concerns over the placement of wiring packages on the plane earlier this month.
In March, Reuters reported that Boeing would separate the 737 MAX wiring packages, singled out by regulators as potentially dangerous, before the plane returns to service.
In early April, Boeing confirmed that it would make two new software updates on the 737 MAX flight control computer. But he said the software issues that caused the updates were not related to a system known as MCAS that failed in both fatal crashes. Boeing is also adding new safeguards to the MCAS anti-lock system.
(Report by David Shepardson; Chizu Nomiyama and Dan Grebler edition)