Technology Flight testing for Boeing's 737 Max begins
Insider - Boeing is aiming for key 737 MAX certification flight in late June
Washington / Seattle, Jun 11 (Reuters) - For the US aircraft manufacturer Boeing, the next step for the re-approval of its 737 MAX for passenger flight operations is imminent. An important certification test flight should take place at the end of June, said two people familiar with the matter on Wednesday.
Fifteen months after the grounding of the Boeing 737 Max, one of the aircraft departed from Boeing Field in Seattle on Monday morning for the first round of testing with the(FAA).
The certification flights, which are expected to take approximately three days, represent a key step in the eventual ungrounding of the plane that was involved in two fatal crashes that killed a total of 346 people.
crashed near Addis Ababa airport just six minutes after takeoff, killing all on board, in March 2019. It was the second crash involving a Boeing 737 Max within five months. In October 2018, Lion Air Flight 610 was airborne for only 13 minutes before it plunged into the Java Sea off the coast of Indonesia.
Boeing 737 MAX: a certification test flight perhaps "at the start of next week"
The test flight necessary for a new certification of the modified Boeing 737 MAX, an essential step before its return to service, could take place "as soon as the start of next week, "two sources familiar with the matter said on Friday. The 737 MAX has been grounded since March 13, 2019 after the accident of a copy of the Ethiopian Airlines company that left 157 dead. The accident came just months after the Lion Air MAX disaster, which killed 189 people.
The similarities between the two crashes raised questions about the safety of Boeing's once fastest-selling jet. Countries around the world began grounding the plane, and, on March 13, 2019, the FAA grounded the Max in the United States.
Investigators found that both crashes were tied to a software called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS). MCAS was designed to help stabilize the 737 Max after heavier, re-positioned engines placed on the aircraft caused the plane's nose to point too far upwards in certain circumstances.
Boeing poised to start crucial 737 Max flight safety tests tomorrow
Boeing’s troubled 737 Max is reportedly close to a key round of test flights. Reuters and BBC News sources understand Boeing and the FAA are due to start a three-day set of flight safety tests for the airliner on June 29th. The aircraft crew will run a string of “methodically scripted” scenarios meant to push the (hopefully fixed) MCAS anti-stall technology to its limits, according to Reuters. If there are no issues, FAA Administrator (and former fighter pilot) Steve Dickson will apparently go aboard a flight weeks later to personally verify the 737 Max’s safety. The FAA might not allow the 737 Max to resume passenger flights until September.
In both crashes, incorrect data from a faulty sensor caused MCAS to misfire, forcing the plane to nose down repeatedly even as pilots struggled to regain control and gain altitude. MCAS was not mentioned in the pilot manual.
In December, House Democratswhich showed the potential of more than 15 fatal crashes over the life of the Max fleet -- about 45 years -- if no change was made to MCAS.
Boeing decided to not just rewrite the software for the MCAS flight control system, but the entire flight computer software. The manufacturer discovered additional software and wiring problems unrelated to the crashes in the process.
The flight tests this week "will include a wide array of flight maneuvers and emergency procedures to enable the agency to assess whether the changes meet FAA certification standards," according to a letter the FAA sent to oversight committee staffers Sunday.
Boeing resumes production of its troubled 737 Max airplane
The plane has yet to be cleared by the FAA to return to passenger service . Investigators have discovered numerous software glitches, apart from the MCAS flight control system that has been identified as the cause of the fatal crashes. Boeing said that during the temporary suspension, the company’s mechanics and engineers worked together to “standardize work packages” and revamp the “kitting process” to ensure that employees have everything they need to build the airplane.
However, even if they are successful, it is unlikely the MAX will be ungrounded before September, sources familiar with the matter explained.
"While the certification flights are an important milestone, a number of key tasks remain,""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."
The two fatal 737 MAX crashes sparked multiple investigations from U.S. agencies, including the Department of Justice and the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Gary Kelly, the CEO of the largest U.S. operator of the Max, Southwest, has said he expects the Max will return to service by the end of the fourth quarter.
Arguably, the toughest task will be winning back the public's trust.
"The 737 MAX, or whatever it's called in the future, will be a great airplane, but it will take time. People are not going to be happy getting on the MAX-branded aircraft, " ABC News Contributor and retired Marine Col. Steve Ganyard said.
Lawmakers accuse FAA chief of 'stonewalling' investigation into Boeing 737 Max .
Lawmakers accuse FAA chief of "stonewalling" investigation into Boeing 737 MaxWednesday marked the third hearing the Senate Commerce Committee has held on the Boeing 737 Max since it launched its investigation into the Boeing plane following two fatal crashes that killed a total of 346 people.