For 14 months, the 737 MAX, the star aircraft of the aeronautical giant Boeing, has been grounded after the air disasters of Ethiopian Arlines and Lion Air.
These accidents had shown disturbing similarities: shortly after takeoff, the pilots were unable to regain control of the aircraft. Elements that had led aviation safety authorities around the world to ban the entire fleet from flying for an indefinite period.
MCAS anti-stall software was implicated in the two accidents. However, other technical malfunctions, including one concerning electrical wiring, were subsequently detected during work on modifications to the device, which led to further delays in the recertification process for this medium-haul, the Sales were, before this crisis, the main source of income for the American aircraft manufacturer.
A flight this Monday?
According to several sources - not confirmed by the American aviation regulator FAA and by Boeing -, the aircraft could take off, perhaps this Monday, for a first certification flight. According to the New York Times, three flights are planned from Boeing Field, not far from Seattle, the birthplace of the legendary manufacturer, in Washington State.
These flights, under the control of the civil aviation authorities, will make it possible to collect thousands of data to see if the modifications made by the aircraft manufacturer allow resumption of commercial operations.
Also according to the New York Times, an FAA pilot will be at the controls to test the modifications made to the machine and a Boeing test pilot will also be on board. But already, according to the Seattle Times, European and Canadian aviation safety authorities have demanded "further substantial changes to the flight control system." Boeing says it is committed to "answering all questions from regulators and meeting all certification and regulatory requirements." "
The fact remains that this restart of the 737 MAX comes at the height of the coronavirus epidemic with an airline sector which is experiencing the worst crisis in its history. For Boeing, it is urgent to fly his plane.
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This device represents more than two thirds of its order book. It is therefore central for the medium-term survival of the aircraft manufacturer. Already, at the end of April, the group announced the elimination of 10% of its workforce, or 16,000 jobs.