Boeing, in concert with the FAA, has begun a series of certification flights for the 737 Max. 

The first such flight was operated Monday morning, departing Boeing Field in Seattle. The test flights are expected to occur through Wednesday and are being undertaken to evaluate Boeing’s proposed changes to the aircraft’s automated flight-control system. 

The tests, which are being conducted by test pilots and engineers from Boeing and the FAA, include a variety of flight maneuvers and emergency procedures to assess whether changes Boeing has made to the automated system meet FAA standards.

The 737 Max was grounded in March 2019 following crashes that month and the previous October that killed a combined 346 people. The crashes were caused by a faulty sensor, which transmitted erroneous information to the planes’ automated flight-control system, called the maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS).

“While the certification flights are an important milestone, a number of key tasks remain,” the FAA said. “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.”

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