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.”