737 MAX planes may soon be back in the skies.
Boeing has been given the green light to begin test flights of its 737 MAX fleet.
The news is a a crucial step for the survival of Boeing’s best selling aircraft that has been grounded for 14 months following two devastating crashes in the space of five months.
Both accidents were blamed on a malfunctioning anti-stall device named Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System.
With testing planned to start today, Boeing said it expects to receive full approval for the plane to fly passengers by the middle of this year. It is unclear, however, if the Covid-19 pandemic will affect this schedule.
“Flights with FAA test pilots could begin as early as tomorrow, evaluating Boeing’s proposed changes to the automated flight control system on the 737 MAX,” the administration wrote in the letter to lawmakers on Sunday.
“Testing is expected to take several days, and will include a wide array of flight maneuvers and emergency procedures to enable the agency to assess whether the changes meet FAA certification standards.”
Although Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval is a hugely important step to get the plane back in the skies, separate approval is needed from European regulators.
Pilots must be retrained on the 737 MAX before operations can resume in European airspace.