Boeing 737 MAX 9. Photo: Boeing.

MIAMI – Today, the Federal Aviation Administration ( FAA) announced it has completed recertification test flights of the Boeing 737 MAX after several test flights over the course of three days.

In addition to the aforementioned flights, Boeing’s new 777X is also undergoing testing before being delivered for commercial service.

The announcement comes on the same day news broke out of an inspector general report stating that Boeing withheld from FAA regulators investigating its 737 MAX aircraft the scope and capability of the faulty computer system that ultimately brought down two

One hurdle less for the MAX

It now seems there is an end in sight to the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX, which started in March 2019 after two crashes killed 346. The entire MAX fleet has been grounded everywhere and airlines have had to adjust to the sudden loss of aircraft.

The recertification flights have been conducted on the 737MAX7, the smallest variant of the 737MAX family, which never entered commercial service before the grounding. The FAA released a short video of the test flights.

FAA video of 737 MAX recertification flights released today

Statement From the FAA

On FAA’s website, today’s statement on the recertification flights reads, “The FAA and Boeing today completed the certification flight tests on the Boeing 737 MAX. During three days of testing this week, “

“FAA Pilots and Engineers evaluated Boeing’s proposed changes in connection with the automated flight control system on the aircraft. While completion of the flights is an important milestone, a number of key tasks remain, including evaluating the data gathered during these flights.”

“The agency is following a deliberate process and will take the time it needs to thoroughly review Boeing’s work. We will lift the grounding order only after FAA safety experts are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards.”

Photo: Brandon Farris

Future for the Boeing 737 MAX

Although the FAA isn’t quite ready for the troubled type to take to the skies just yet, this is a big step for Boeing and airlines affected by the groundings.

Boeing stock soared on June 29 when the recertification flights were announced. But will the public feel safe to get back on a MAX even when the grounding is lifted?

Grounded Southwest 737MAX8s in Victorville
Photo: Luca Flores

Pending Tasks for Full Recertification

According to the FAA. the remaining tasks for the MAX include:

  • JOEB Validation & FSB Review – The FAA’s Flight Standardization Board (FSB) and the Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB) which includes international partners from Canada, Europe, and Brazil will evaluate minimum pilot training requirements.  The FSB will issue a draft report for public comment addressing the findings of the FSB and JOEB.
  • Final FSB Report – The FAA will publish a final FSB report after reviewing and addressing public comments.
  • Final Design Documentation and TAB Report – The FAA will review Boeing’s final design documentation in order to evaluate compliance with all FAA regulations.  The multi-agency Technical Advisory Board (TAB) will also review the final Boeing submission and issue a final report prior to a final determination of compliance by the FAA.
  • CANIC & AD – The FAA will issue a Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community (CANIC) providing notice of pending significant safety actions and will publish an Airworthiness Directive (AD) that addresses the known issues for grounding. The AD will advise operators of required corrective actions before aircraft may re-enter commercial service.
  • FAA Rescinds Grounding Order – This marks the official ungrounding of the aircraft, pending completion by operators of the work specified in the AD, along with any required training.
  • Certificates of Airworthiness – The FAA will retain its authority to issue airworthiness certificates and export certificates for all new 737 MAX airplanes manufactured since the grounding.  The FAA will perform in-person, individual reviews of these aircraft.
  • Operator Training Programs – The FAA will review and approve training programs for all part 121 operators.