Boeing and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) have completed certification flight tests on the 737 MAX.
A Boeing 737 MAX 9. Photo by Brandon Farris | AeroNewsX
The rigorous testing, which lasted three days and began on Monday, will ultimately allow the FAA to decide on Boeing’s design changes. The data has yet to be analysed.
“We will lift the grounding order only after FAA safety experts are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards,” the FAA said in a statement.
The latest announcement is a major step in the return of the Boeing 737 MAX to service. The aircraft type has been grounded since March 2019 after two fatal incidents involving Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines examples.
For months after the two crashes, Boeing was struggling to return the MAX to service, providing deadlines that were never met. Boeing stock price plummeted and customers cancelled orders for Boeing's top-selling aircraft, the Boeing 737 MAX.
The crash involving Boeing's Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) was designed to prevent the aircraft nose from pitching too high, but investigations on both crashes revealed that the MCAS system failed and assumed that the nose of the aircraft was pitching dangerously high, causing the MCAS to push the nose down, putting the plane into a steep dive.
However, further investigation revealed that the MCAS isn't the only design flaw that the Boeing 737 MAX is equipped with.
Monday's test flight included high-speed tests and several manoeuvres that would put the plane into a steep turn that would nearly cause a stall, to recreate conditions that trigger the MCAS software.
“While completion of the flights is an important milestone, a number of key tasks remain, including evaluating the data gathered during these flights,” the FAA said on Wednesday.
Article by Dillon Shah & Cornelius Kwok.