Boeing’s beleaguered 737 Max aircraft, grounded since March after a pair of crashes killed more than 340 passengers and crew, is inching back toward the air.
The Federal Aviation Administration is apparently close to conducting a certification flight for the plane in October, the most important component of a series of steps to get the 737 Max flying again.
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Though most airlines have canceled flights on the plane through November – some already through January – Boeing has consistently said it believes the 737 Max would be back in service early in the fourth quarter, which starts in October.
“The FAA’s certification of the Boeing 737 Max is the subject of several independent reviews and investigations that will examine all aspects of the five-year effort,” the agency told Bloomberg News Service. “While the agency’s certification processes are well established and have consistently produced safe aircraft designs, we welcome the scrutiny from these experts and look forward to their findings.”
There are more than 600 Boeing 737 Max planes that are currently grounded.
“We continue to support the FAA and global regulators on the safe return of the Max to service,” Boeing said in a statement.
The aircraft manufacturer has been testing changes to its software, which is believed to be the cause of the two separate crashes over five months earlier this year.
According to Bloomberg, a certification flight with FAA test pilots is one of the final steps that must be conducted before Boeing’s submission is finalized. If the plane behaves as expected, the results become part of the package for certification. Even though FAA engineers have worked closely with Boeing for months, the agency must perform a series of checks after the submission is made before granting approval.