Boeing is slated to start a series of test flights Monday that could play an important role in returning its troubled 737 MAX jet to the skies, according to reports.
The flights will reportedly help the Federal Aviation Administration determine whether Boeing has done enough to fix the jet’s safety problems in the 15 months since it was grounded following two crashes that killed 346 people.
The certification test, set to take place over at least three days in Washington state, will focus on the stall-prevention software that played a key role in both crashes, Reuters reported. The first flight is set to take off Monday following several hours of briefing, according to the news agency.
In a Sunday email to congressional staff, the FAA said the test flights were allowed to start after regulators finished a lengthy review of the “system safety assessment” that Boeing submitted, Bloomberg News reported. The agency added that it has not yet decided whether the 737 MAX can return to service, a process that will reportedly take months more.
In a statement to The Post, Boeing said it continues “to work diligently on safely returning the 737 MAX to commercial service” but did not confirm when the test flights will take place or what they will involve.
“We defer to the FAA and global regulators on the certification process,” Boeing said.
The FAA did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday morning.
Boeing shares jumped 8.1 percent in premarket trading Monday at $183.70 as of 7:27 a.m.
The pair of 737 MAX crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia sparked a massive crisis for Boeing, which has also suffered in recent months from reduced demand for air travel as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Regulators grounded the plane in March 2019, and a flurry of investigations has followed — including a reported criminal probe into various safety problems on the 737 MAX assembly line. Boeing forced out CEO Dennis Muilenburg in December amid a backlash over the crashes and handed the reins to chairman David Calhoun.
Boeing delivered just 50 planes in the first quarter of this year, down from 149 a year earlier. The Chicago-based company’s share price ended last week about 55 percent lower than the day the feds grounded the 737 MAX.
With Post wires