Boeing Gets Green Light from FAA to Start 737 Max Test Flights

By Kurt Stolz on 28 June 2020
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A Boeing 737 cockpit

Boeing said it received Federal Aviation Administration approval to start test flights of its beleaguered 737 Max to validate new flight control software with a goal of getting its best-selling jet back into the skies.

The 737 Max was grounded in March 2019 following two hull losses that resulted in the death of 346 people.

Lion Air Flight 610 crashed into the Java Sea on October 29, 2018, en route from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta to Depati Amir Airport in Pangkai Pinang.  The Boeing 737 Max 8 crashed 13 minutes after takeoff, killing all 189 passengers and crewmembers.

Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, heading for Nairobi, crashed on March 18, 2019 just minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa.

The worldwide fleet of 737 Max aircraft has been grounded for almost 15 months following the two incidents, which roiled the airline industry at the time.

Boeing last year developed a software fix for the planes, which involves the aircraft’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, a flight control system that repeatedly pushed down the noses of the two jets that crashed.  Since then, other potential issues with the aircraft have emerged and the multiple senior Boeing officials including the CEO have been forced to resign as a result of their handling of the issue.

The hardware and software modifications are expected to address all currently open issues with the aircraft.

The certification flights will be flown by FAA pilots although a Boeing test pilot will also be on board.

The plan calls for the tests to “include an array of flight maneuvers and emergency procedures to enable the agency to assess“ whether Boeing’s hardware and software changes comply with FAA certification standards, the agency said in an e-mail to House and Senate oversight committee staff members.

Presuming the tests are successful, there will still be multiple steps that follow the flight tests, including reports and analyses.  The FAA may determine that pilots require additional training based on the changes and what has been learnt about the crashes.

Even then, since the planes have been in storage for over a year, it will take some time to get them updated and perform any maintenance or testing before then can resume commercial service.

(Photo: Accura Media Group)

Accura News

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