This week, Boeing completed test flights of its troubled 737 Max airplane to demonstrate that it can fly safely with new flight control software.
The Boeing 737 Max was grounded in March 2019 after two of fatal crashes — in Indonesia and Ethiopia — that killed in total 346 people.
Specifically, a Boeing 737 MAX 7 with the registration code N7201S performed the following key flights:
- On Monday the plane operated a 2hr3min flight from Boeing Field to Moses Lake, and then a 1hr53min flight from Moses Lake to Boeing Field
- On Tuesday the plane operated a 3hr56min flight from Boeing Field to Moses Lake, and then a 33min flight from Moses Lake back to Boeing Field
- On Wednesday the plane operated a 21min flight to & from Boeing Field
The test flights over the past three days have been intended to evaluate Boeing’s proposed changes to the automated flight control system on the 737 MAX.
They ran scripted mid-air scenarios that included steep bank turns, progressing to more extreme maneuvers. On top of that, the reprogrammed MCAS was tested, as that’s what was involved in both crashes.
Prior to these flights, Boeing had already performed dozens of test flights with this exact Boeing 737 MAX 7, so what’s new here is that FAA officials were onboard as well.
However, the FAA announced that it will take some time before 737 Max is allowed to return to service:
“The agency 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 FAA safety experts are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards.”