The Boeing 737 MAX has taken to the sky, this time kicking off the planned re-certification flights to pave the way to re-entry into service.
For those who have forgotten as the world has been full of COVID related news, Boeing was still working through numerous issues with the Boeing 737 MAX since the Ethiopian Airlines crash last year – which in turn grounded the worldwide fleet of the type.
It’s been 15 months since then.
Since then, Boeing has worked through a lot of issues related to the type – to the point where they’ve taken a Boeing 737 MAX on its first certification flight.
The flight (Boeing 701) can be found at https://www.flightradar24.com/data/flights/boe701/#24cfc773 where it departed Paine Field at 9:54 local time, flying to Moses Lake – arriving at 11:58 – around 2 hours in the air. It utilised N7201S – A Boeing 737 MAX 7 – on the two-hour sortie to Moses Lake, before returning later on a 1-hour 43-minute flight back to Boeing Field.
Outbound flight – Data, FlightRadar24
Inbound flight – Data, FlightRadar24
According to the US Federal Aviation Administration:
The FAA and Boeing are conducting a series of certification flights this week to evaluate Boeing’s proposed changes to the automated flight control system on the 737 MAX. The aircraft departed from Boeing Field in Seattle at 9:55 a.m. Pacific Time today for the first round of testing. The flight is expected to take several hours.
The certification flights are expected to take approximately three days. They will include a wide array of flight maneuvers and emergency procedures to assess whether the changes meet FAA certification standards. The tests are being conducted by test pilots and engineers from the FAA and Boeing.
While the certification flights are an important milestone, a number of key tasks remain. 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.
A test of confidence, but other agencies will need to get involved soon
For Boeing, this is where all the work that they’ve done in resolving the issues with the 737 MAX comes together, as it seeks to gain an airworthiness directive. The timing comes as airlines are not in the mood to take deliveries of aircraft, with them seeking to preserve cash at this time due to COVID-19 denting every airlines’ income.
However, as well as pleasing the US FAA, other agencies will need to certify the type if it is to fly, as the type will have to be recertified by them too, with them not automatically following the US agency – making Boeing demonstrate they have resolved the problems the aircraft has had in the past.
The outcomes will be one that Boeing will need to watch and keenly understand.
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