The FAA, the US civil aviation agency, completed on Wednesday the certification flights with the 737 MAX aircraft. Now, the data collected in this series of tests will be analyzed by experts in order to prove the solutions adopted by Boeing to correct the design errors that led to the crash of two aircraft in 2018 and last year. There is no deadline for this process to be concluded.
Five flights were performed with the model 737 MAX 7 registration N7201S, which is used by Boeing as a demonstrator. On Monday and Tuesday, the aircraft took off from Boeing Field in the morning and landed at Moses Lake Airport, about 230 km away, returning to Seattle hours later. On Wednesday, the FAA ended up making a final flight of just 21 minutes that returned to the same starting point.
The 737 MAX remained in the air for 8 hours and 36 minutes, performing the wide array of flight maneuvers and emergency procedures to assess whether the changes meet FAA certification standards. The longest flight took place on Tuesday when the Boeing jet completed 3 hours and 56 minutes in the air. The agency shared on YouTube a video showing the behind the scenes of one of the test flights.
The FAA has listed what the next tasks to be done before releasing the 737 MAX to return to service. These include an assessment of the minimum training requirements for pilots, to be carried out jointly with civil aviation agencies in Canada, Europe and Brazil.
The agencies will review the final Boeing submission and issue a final report. The FAA will then issue an airworthiness notification and a directive that will address the issues that motivated the grounding. These documents will contain the corrective actions to resume commercial service.
After these procedures, the American agency will cancel the grounding order, which will allow the resumption of deliveries. However, the FAA points out that it will perform individual reviews for each new aircraft produced by Boeing before issuing airworthiness and export certificates. Finally, the FAA will review and approve the crew retraining programs for 121 737 MAX operators.
Boeing hid FAA information
The great concern about releasing the aircraft for normal operation was further reinforced, the finding that Boeing hid information from the FAA when the original 737 MAX certification process took place.
According to a report by the US government, the airframer failed to send documents to the FAA detailing the changes to the MCAS system. The change was considered of little relevance because it was made in a speed trim system already in use in the NG series and which involved only limited adjustments.
Boeing declined to comment as much on the certification flights as it did on the report, according to Reuters.