BERLIN – Europe's flight safety authority said Thursday it had scheduled the first flight tests for the Boeing 737 Max, which has been grounded worldwide after two deadly crashes revealed design issues with the jet.
The European Aviation Safety Agency said in a statement that it has been working with the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, which began its own recertification test flights in June, on scheduling its own tests.
“While Boeing still has some final actions to close off, EASA judges the overall maturity of the re-design process is now sufficient to proceed to flight tests,” the agency said. “These are a prerequisite for the European agency to approve the aircraft’s new design.”
EASA said the hope is to return the plane to service as soon as possible, but only once the agency is convinced it is safe.
Airlines began using the Max in 2017. There were nearly 400 in service when the planes were grounded after a 2018 crash in Indonesia and a 2019 crash in Ethiopia. Investigators have pointed to the role played by flight-control software called MCAS that pushed the noses of the planes down based on faulty sensor readings.
Earlier this month, the FAA outlined a list of design changes required before it would lift its order grounding the aircraft.
The EASA flight tests will take place in Vancouver, Canada, in the week starting Sept. 7, EASA said.
The week before, simulator tests will be run at London's Gatwick airport.