Boeing’s 737 MAX completes recertification flights

Jul 1, 2020

This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

The Federal Aviation Administration announced Wednesday that Boeing’s 737 MAX completed a crucial phase of its recertification process — namely, test flights.

“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,” the agency said in a statement. “While completion of the flights is an important milestone, a number of key tasks remain, including evaluating the data gathered during these flights.”

Sign up for the free daily TPG newsletter for more aviation news.

The global fleet of 737 MAX planes has been grounded since March 2019 after two fatal wrecks that left 346 people dead.

Related: Lion Air initially wanted simulator training for 737 MAX pilots, documents show.

The flight control system that the FAA mentioned in its statement is suspected of contributing to both crashes. The system, known as MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) was created to make the MAX fly more like earlier versions of the 737, despite the latest update having larger engines that were mounted farther forward than on its predecessors. The system was meant to ease pilot training requirements for airlines that had older versions of the 737 in their fleets.

It could still be a few months before the MAX is cleared for commercial service in the U.S. again, and it also remains unclear if foreign regulators will accept the FAA’s recertification as they have historically, or if they will try to do flight testing of their own.

Related: Here’s what Boeing’s next moves say about the slow resumption of travel.

Boeing’s relationship with the American regulator has come under scrutiny in the wake of the MAX crashes, and critics have said that the FAA was too deferential to the manufacturer.

As Boeing and global authorities have prepared for the MAX to reenter service, Boeing and the FAA have taken pains to assure the public that the regulator is in charge and autonomous in its decision to allow the aircraft to fly again.

Related: American Airlines to keep Embraer E190s longer amid Boeing 737 MAX uncertainty.

The FAA said remaining steps to recertification include finalizing recommendations for pilot training from the agency’s Flight Standardization Board and the Joint Operations Evaluation Board, which includes input from other global aviation regulators. After that happens, a series of paperwork steps are required, and ultimately the FAA will re-approve each airline’s pilot training regimen for the 737 MAX before individual companies can bring their aircraft back into service.

Read more: The 737 MAX mess — a timeline of how we got here.

In the U.S., American Airlines, United Airlines and Southwest Airlines are the primary operators of the aircraft, with Southwest having the most MAXes in its fleet. Before it was grounded, the MAX was Boeing’s best-selling jet, but airlines have been scaling back their orders. At one point, Boeing even temporarily shut down the production line as it was running out of places to store finished, undelivered airframes. The grounding also left airline schedules in flux for months, though that problem has been overtaken by the coronavirus demand slump.

Featured photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images.

Chase Sapphire Preferred® Card

WELCOME OFFER: 60,000 Points

TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,200

CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners

*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Earn 60,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $750 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • 2X points on travel and dining at restaurants worldwide & 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
  • Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards. For example, 60,000 points are worth $750 toward travel
  • Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on orders over $12 for a minimum of one year on qualifying food purchases with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
  • Earn 5X points on Lyft rides through March 2022. That’s 3X points in addition to the 2X points you already earn on travel.
Intro APR on Purchases
N/A
Regular APR
15.99%-22.99% Variable
Annual Fee
$95
Balance Transfer Fee
Either $5 or 5% of the amount of each transfer, whichever is greater.
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good

Editorial Disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airlines or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser’s responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.