Boeing poised for critical 737 Max flight tests on Monday

The Boeing 737 MAX has been grounded since March 2019 following two deadly crashes

The Boeing 737 MAX has been grounded since March 2019 following two deadly crashes

People work near the door of a 737 Max aircraft at the Boeing factory in Renton, Wash., on March 27, 2019.

Reuters cited two people briefed of the matter as saying that a certification flight test, which is expected to last at least two days, could begin as early as Tuesday, but still hasn't been finalized.

The Boeing 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 following two catastrophic crashes of this type of plane, one in Jakarta, Indonesia and the other in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

After a preflight briefing over several hours, the crew will board a 737 MAX 7 outfitted with test equipment at Boeing Field near Seattle, one of the people said. The flight plan could include touch-and-go landings at the eastern Washington airport in Moses Lake, and a path over the Pacific Ocean coastline, adjusting the course as needed for weather conditions and other factors, one of the people said.

"The team is making progress toward FAA certification flights in the near future", an FAA spokesman said Friday.

Boeing and the USA federal aviation regulator plan to start a three-day certification test campaign for the 737 Max, marking a major milestone in its return to the skies after a 15-month long grounding.

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In early April, Boeing confirmed it would make two new software updates to the 737 Max's flight control computer.

Successfully completing the test would provide some rare good news for Boeing and CEO Dave Calhoun at a time when the aviation industry is reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic and could help unlock billions of dollars in inventory from about 450 planes the company has built but been unable to deliver.

At least one of those practice flights included the same testing parameters expected tomorrow, one of the people said.

Conducting test flights is one of the final steps in the process of certifying a jetliner and aviation regulators wouldn't have scheduled it if their review of Boeing's proposed fixes had revealed significant additional issues.

The tragic incidents prompted widespread concerns over technical flaws and quality control at Boeing, as well as appropriate training for pilots to fly the 737 MAX planes.

That means the jet is on a path to resume USA commercial service before year-end, though the process has been plagued by delays for more than a year. Earlier this month, Curtis Ewbank, a former Boeing flight engineer-turned-whistleblower, testified before U.S. lawmakers that Boeing and the FAA repeatedly ignored safety concerns during the 737 MAX's initial certification, covering up the fact that "the 1960s-era design of the 737" allegedly "does not meet current regulatory standards or a modern concept of aviation safety".

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