The Boeing 737 Max made its first certification flight on June 29, 2020 near Seattle. - Elaine Thompson / AP / SIPA

He flew for four hours. The Boeing 737 MAX made the first of a series of certification flights on Monday, a crucial step for the survival of the star aircraft of the American aeronautical giant grounded since March 2019 after two accidents that claimed the lives of 346 people. But blow for the manufacturer, the low cost company Norwegian Air Shuttle announced the same day that it canceled an order of 92 specimens of the apparatus, as well as five Dreamliner.

The plane, which took off at 9:55 am from Boeing Field near Seattle, the manufacturer's cradle, landed safely at 2:16 pm, noted an AFP photographer. The MAX flew for several hours in the surrounding area, also landing and taking off at Moses Lake Ground County airport, east of the big city of Washington state, according to the tracking application Flightradar24 flights.

Data screened

The purpose of the flight - and those to follow in a three-day campaign - is to "assess the changes to the 737 MAX's automated control systems," said the federal regulator of the aircraft. 'aviation (FAA), in charge of certification and flights in a press release. The test data from these three days will be analyzed by the FAA, but also by authorities in other countries.

The 737 MAX has been grounded since March 13, 2019 after the accident of a copy of the Ethiopian Airlines company that left 157 dead. This tragedy came just months after the Lion Air MAX disaster, which killed 189 people.

The disturbing similarities between the two fatal accidents, shortly after take-off, with an inability of the pilots to regain control of the plane, had led aviation safety authorities around the world to ban the entire fleet from flying for an indefinite period . For months, Boeing has struggled to return to service its medium-haul, whose sales were before this crisis its main source of income.

Anti-stall system modifications

The MCAS anti-stall software was implicated in the two accidents. However, other technical malfunctions, including one concerning electrical wiring, were subsequently detected during work to modify the device, slowing down the recertification process.

For weeks, the aircraft manufacturer has been waiting for the green light from the authorities to prove with the test flights that the MAX was perfectly safe. The market seemed optimistic. Boeing shares jumped 14.4%, bringing with it all the odds, the manufacturer being a key player in the American economy.

Boeing was expecting the MAX to return to service a few months ago, but the Covid-19 pandemic, which resulted in travel restrictions and the confinement of workers, thwarted its schedule. According to the Seattle Times , European and Canadian aviation safety authorities have also demanded "further substantial changes to the flight control system". For Boeing, it is urgent to fly his plane to get out of a historic crisis. This aircraft represented 85% of its order book last year, and still more than two thirds today.


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