SEATTLE (AP) — A Boeing 737 Max took off from a Seattle airport on Monday, the start of three days of re-certification test flights that mark a step toward returning the aircraft to passenger service.
The Federal Aviation Administration test flights over the next three days will evaluate Boeing’s proposed changes to the automated flight control system on the Max. This is the software called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) that activated erroneously on two flights that crashed, killing 346 people. Since the second accident in March 2019, the jet has been grounded.
The Seattle Times reports the plane flew east and landed one hour and 20 minutes later at Moses Lake, Washington, and returned to Boeing Field early in the afternoon.
Boeing has over the past year made multiple changes to its plans for updating the airplane’s systems. The start of these re-certification flights indicates that Boeing has finalized its changes and turned them in to the FAA.
The test flights will enable the FAA to evaluate the finalized upgrade to MCAS as its pilots perform a wide array of flight maneuvers and emergency procedures to assess whether the changes meet FAA certification standards.