A Boeing 737 Max took off this morning on the first round of flight testing for recertification of the hardware and software changes to the aircraft’s automated flight control system. The first flight was expected to take several hours and departed from Boeing Field in Seattle.
According to the FAA, three days of testing by the FAA and Boeing test pilots and engineers are planned. “They will include a wide array of flight maneuvers and emergency procedures to assess whether the changes meet FAA certification standards,” the FAA said in a statement issued on Monday.
The 737 Max fleet was grounded worldwide following two fatal accidents in October 2018 and March 2019. Since then, Boeing has been working on refining the software and hardware fixes to the Max’s maneuvering characteristics augmentation system design.
Regulators other than the FAA are taking a keen interest in scrutinizing the new flight control system design, and there may be more requirements to meet before the Max is approved to fly.
“While the certification flights are an important milestone, a number of key tasks remain,” the FAA said in its statement. “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.”