Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) began a series of test flights on Monday to determine whether the 737 Max should be allowed back in the air, after it was involved in two deadly crashes that killed 346 people in 2018 and 2019. The tests are expected to last around three days.
“While the certification flights are an important milestone, a number of key tasks remain,” the FAA said in a statement. “The FAA is following a deliberate process and will take the time it needs to thoroughly review Boeing’s work. We will lift the grounding order only after we are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards.”
The Max 7 took off from Boeing Field at about 9:55 a.m. local time Monday and is scheduled to return about three hours later, according to its flight plan. Using call sign BOE701, the plane is flying maneuvers over central Washington state.
The so-called certification flight is a milestone toward ending a grounding imposed worldwide in March 2019 after the accidents killed 346 people. The FAA plans to put the jet, bristling with monitoring equipment, through a comprehensive examination, said a person familiar with the matter, who wasn’t authorized to speak publicly about the details.
Part of Monday’s test flights reportedly involved taking the plane into a very steep turn that would nearly cause a stall, according to Bloomberg. By doing this, test pilots and engineers from the FAA and Boeing hope to recreate the conditions that triggered the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS the software that doomed both fatal flights.