Boeing May Begin 737 Max Test Flights, FAA Says

The move marks an important step in the process to re-certify the 737 Max, which is based on March 2019, for passenger flights.
Boeing has said it expects to receive full approval for the plane to fly passengers by the middle of this year. The FAA in a letter to Congress on Sunday said it does not yet have a date for when the base will be lifted.

“Flights with FAA test pilots could begin as soon as tomorrow, evaluating Boeing’s proposed changes to the automated flight control system on the 737 MAX,” the administration wrote in the letter to lawmakers, which was obtained on CNN. “The tests are expected to take several days and will include a wide range of flight maneuvers and emergency procedures to allow the agency to assess whether the changes meet FAA certification standards.”

Boeing has been working with the FAA to retrieve the 737 Max mid-air after two crashes that killed 346 people. Initially, the company expected the plane to fly again before the end of 2019, but the effort hit several obstacles, including a new software issue that was discovered in February.
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“Boeing continues to work diligently to support the safe return of the 737 Max to commercial service. We refer to the FAA and global regulators about the process,” Boeing said in a statement to CNN on Sunday.

So far, problems with the 737 Max have cost Boeing $ 18.7 billion, and that number is likely to continue to rise.
The company temporarily stopped building the 737 Max in January, before the Covid-19 pandemic hit most of the world’s airlines. He couldn’t afford to continue building the Max without being able to deliver the planes and complete the plane’s sales.
Boeing restarted production of the plane in May, but airlines have decided to cancel or delay delivery of new planes in the face of the Covid-19 crisis, forcing Boeing to greatly reduce its production plans for at least the next few years. years.

The aircraft cannot return to service until it receives final approval from the FAA.

The FAA letter to Congress said that the start of test flights does not mean that the agency has “completed its compliance assessment or other work associated with return to service.” The agency outlined in the letter the steps that will remain in the authorization process after test flights, including evaluating the minimum pilot training requirements, among other processes.

– CNN’s Greg Wallace, Rebekah Riess and Hollie Silverman contributed to this report.