The Federal Aviation Administration has conducted an evaluation flight of Boeing's 737 Max aircraft. The two-hour flight evaluation was conducted by the administration's chief Steve Dickson.
Passing the test is a milestone for the aircraft and its eventual return to service following the two fatal crashes last year that grounded the model worldwide. Dickson, a former military and commercial pilot, conducted the test with other officials and Boeing pilots at King County International Airport in Seattle.
After the test, Dickson said he had liked what he saw. However, he said there was still more work to be done before the aircraft is certified for service. The administration didn't announce an exact timeline leading to the aircraft's certification. Dickson said it still needed to study data.
Boeing's 737 Max was originally grounded by the administration in March last year following the crashes of two airplanes in Indonesia and Ethiopia which killed 346 passengers and crew.
Canceled orders and costs relating to the crashes, compounded by the spread of the coronavirus, led to Boeing losing billions of dollars. The crashes also put into question the administration's role as the enforcer of aviation standards and safety - straining its relationship with the aircraft manufacturer. This eventually led to politicians calling on an overhaul of how the agency certifies planes for commercial service.
In a statement released earlier in the week, Dickson stated that he won't sign off on certification until he flew the "fixed" 737 planes himself. He said when he is satisfied the aircraft won't put his own family at risk would he let it pass.
Boeing's MCAS control system was the main reason for the two crashes. The system reportedly received faulty data from a single sensor which then triggered it to steer the plane down without the pilot knowing.
According to sources, the administration could lift the U.S. grounding of the aircraft as soon as November. Other regulators are expected to follow. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency says it might also lift the ban.