Flight testing for Boeing’s 737 Max could begin Monday

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FILE – In this Dec. 11, 2019, file photo, an United Airlines Boeing 737 Max airplane takes off in the rain at Renton Municipal Airport in Renton, Wash. Boeing said Tuesday, Jan, 7, 2020, it is recommending that pilots receive training in a flight simulator before the grounded 737 Max returns to flying, a reversal of the company’s long-held position that computer-based training alone was adequate. The 737 Max has been grounded worldwide since last March after two crashes killed 346 people. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)

Flight-certification testing for Boeing’s 737 Max, which has been grounded since March 2019 because of two deadly crashes, could begin as early as Monday, according to an Federal Aviation Administration email sent Sunday to congressional oversight committees.

The company needs clearance from the FAA before the planes can fly again, and the test flights, with FAA test pilots, are a key step. They would take several days and would evaluate Boeing’s proposed changes to the automated flight control system on the Max.

The flight control system, triggered by faulty readings from sensors, pushed the planes into nosedives that led to crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, killing 346 people.

Even if no new problems are discovered during the test flights, it’s likely to take at least a month to get pilots trained and get mothballed planes upgraded, inspected and serviced. The FAA has to sign off on Boeing’s pilot-training program, and a panel of international regulators will comment on minimum pilot training too.

Boeing said it deferred to the FAA and global regulators on the Max certification process.

Nearly 400 Max planes had been delivered to airlines before they were grounded, and Boeing has built several hundred more.

Copyright 2020 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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