The Boeing 737 MAX completed its series of certification flights on Wednesday, a crucial step for the survival of the flagship aircraft of the American aeronautical giant but not enough to return to service, the American aviation regulator said on Wednesday (FAA).
“The FAA and Boeing today completed certification test flights on the Boeing 737 MAX. During three days of testing this week, FAA pilots and engineers assessed the modifications made by Boeing in connection with the automated flight control system, ”the FAA said in a statement. It is she who will give or not the green light to the 737 MAX so that it can eventually take to the skies.
The plane has been grounded since March 2019, worldwide, after two close accidents that killed a total of 346 people.
The aircraft began its certification flight campaign at 9:55 a.m. (4:55 p.m. GMT) Monday at Boeing Field near Seattle, the automaker’s home.
The FAA gave no details on how the flights went but took pains to stress that the agency “will only lift the flight ban when FAA safety experts are certain that the aircraft fulfills the certification criteria ”.
The agency itself was implicated in the investigations launched after the accidents. In particular, they uncovered a conniving relationship between FAA agents and the Boeing teams, which could lead to too rapid certification of the aircraft and its anti-stall system, the MCAS. This software was implicated both in the accident of the Indonesian airline Lion Air in October 2018 and that of Ethiopian Airlines in March 2019.
For months, Boeing has struggled to return to service its medium-haul, whose sales were before this crisis its main source of income.
For Boeing, it is urgent to fly its plane to extricate itself from a historic crisis, but in its press release the FAA detailed still half a dozen conditions to be fulfilled for a possible certification. She gave no timetable.
This aircraft represents more than two thirds of the order book of the American aeronautical giant.
At the end of April, the group announced the reduction of 10% of its workforce, or 16,000 jobs. S&P had immediately downgraded its financial strength rating from A- to BBB, now relegating it to a notch in the speculative category.