Boeing’s 737 MAX is one step closer to carrying passengers again

Jun 29, 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.

A Boeing 737 MAX took to the skies over Washington Monday, marking a major, tangible step toward the plane eventually being returned to commercial service.

The Federal Aviation Administration confirmed it is working with Boeing on a series of recertification flights that are a crucial part of clearing the MAX to again fly scheduled airline service.

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

The global fleet of Boeing’s best-selling narrowbody jet has been grounded since March 2019 after two fatal crashes that together killed 346 people.

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

Monday’s flight lasted slightly more than an hour, according to FlightRadar24, and the FAA said it is the first in a series that will take place over about three days.

The flights, the FAA said, “will include a wide array of flight maneuvers and emergency procedures to assess whether the changes meet FAA certification standards.”

Boeing 737 MAX recertification flight. (Image courtesy of FlightRadar24)
Boeing 737 MAX recertification flight. (Image courtesy of FlightRadar24)

It’s expected that the tests will put particular emphasis on updates to an automated flight control system that contributed to both of the fatal accidents that led to the grounding.

Related: Alaska Airlines calls Boeing a ‘fantastic partner’ as it decides between A321neo and 737 MAX.

Boeing and the FAA have come under scrutiny in the wake of those crashes for what critics have called a close relationship and for deference the FAA had paid to the manufacturer when the plane was originally certified. As the plane’s recertification has drawn closer, both organizations emphasized that the FAA is taking the lead throughout the process and that it is being thorough in its analysis and testing of changes to the MAX.

Review: Southwest (737 MAX 8) Inaugural Flight From Dallas to Houston.

“While the certification flights are an important milestone, a number of key tasks remain,” the agency said in its statement. “The FAA 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 we are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards.”

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

Industry watchers have predicted that the MAX could be cleared carry passengers again as soon as this fall, but the timeline remains fluid, pending the outcome of tests and approval of other related measures like new training protocols for pilots.

Before it was grounded, the MAX was Boeing’s best-selling jet, and was poised to become a workhorse for airlines around the world. It’s still likely to become a crucial part of many fleets, though on a slower schedule than predicted a few years ago. In the U.S., Southwest Airlines, which operates an all-737 fleet, was the largest operator of the jet before the grounding, and American and United also have some on their property already. Both Southwest and United have announced plans to reduce their 737 MAX orders.

Featured photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images.

Delta SkyMiles® Platinum American Express Card

Earn 90,000 bonus miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new card in the first three months of card membership. Offer ends 11/10/2021.

With Status Boost™, earn 10,000 Medallion Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, up to two times per year getting you closer to Medallion Status. Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels, 2X Miles at restaurants and at U.S. supermarkets and earn 1X Mile on all other eligible purchases. Terms Apply.

Apply Now
More Things to Know
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 90,000 Bonus Miles and 10,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) after you spend $3,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months. Offer expires 11/10/2021.
  • Earn up to 20,000 Medallion® Qualification Miles (MQMs) with Status Boost® per year. After you spend $25,000 in purchases on your Card in a calendar year, you can earn 10,000 MQMs two times per year, getting you closer to Medallion® Status. MQMs are used to determine Medallion® Status and are different than miles you earn toward flights.
  • Earn 3X Miles on Delta purchases and purchases made directly with hotels.
  • Earn 2X Miles at restaurants worldwide, including takeout and delivery and at U.S. supermarkets.
  • Earn 1X Miles on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a Domestic Main Cabin round-trip companion certificate each year upon renewal of your Card. *Payment of the government imposed taxes and fees of no more than $75 for roundtrip domestic flights (for itineraries with up to four flight segments) is required. Baggage charges and other restrictions apply. See terms and conditions for details.
  • Enjoy your first checked bag free on Delta flights.
  • Fee Credit for Global Entry or TSA Pre✓®.
  • Enjoy an exclusive rate of $39 per person per visit to enter the Delta Sky Club® for you and up to two guests when traveling on a Delta flight.
  • No Foreign Transaction Fees.
  • $250 Annual Fee.
  • Terms Apply.
  • See Rates & Fees
Regular APR
15.74%-24.74% Variable
Annual Fee
$250
Balance Transfer Fee
N/A
Recommended Credit
Excellent/Good
Terms and restrictions apply. See rates & fees.

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.