Boeing, the American planemaker, is set to begin the 737 Max certification flight tests on Monday, 29th June 2020, seeking to get approvals to return to service.
As Reuters reports, pilots and test crew members from the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Boeing will begin a three-day certification test campaign for the 737 MAX, running methodically scripted mid-air scenarios, including steep-banking turns, progressing to more extreme maneuvers on a route primarily over Washington state.
Furthermore, the test could include touch-and-go landings at the eastern Washington airport in Moses Lake, and a path over the Pacific Ocean coastline, alongside adjusting the flight plan and timing as needed for weather and other factors.
Additionally, pilots will also intentionally trigger the reprogrammed stall-prevention software known as MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) faulted in both crashes involving the 737 Max last year, and aerodynamic stall conditions.
The tests are aimed at ensuring the new protections Boeing added to MCAS are robust enough to prevent the scenario pilots encountered before both crashes, where they were unable to counteract MCAS. They grappled with “stick shaker” column vibrations and other warnings.
After the test flights, FAA officials in Washington and the Seattle-area will then analyze reams of digital and paperwork flight test data to assess the jet’s airworthiness.
In May this year, Boeing resumed production f the 737 Max at a low rate, after being halted in January 2020 after two of its 737 Max planes crashed in March last year, killing everyone on board. This was then followed by a worldwide grounding of the craft, with no airline yet to lift the ban.
Due to Boeing’s decision to continue building the 737 MAX while waiting for regulators to recertify the model, the company had built up an inventory of about 400 undelivered 737 MAX jets and was running out of places to store them.