It was expected that the Boeing 737 MAX would be recertified by April of this year, but this is now likely to happen in May as new issues have been found in the flight control software. Compounded by the COVID-19 pandemic, this is another problem that Boeing certainly didn’t need.
In March of this year, the head of the FAA, Steve Dickson said that he believed the recertification flight was only a matter of weeks away.
“We’re working through the last few software review and documentation issues and then I think within a matter of a few weeks we should be seeing a certification flight.”
Boeing has identified 2 new problems in the flight-control computer of the MAX. One of the problems relates to “hypothetical faults” in the computers input of the plane’s pitch. It is worth noting that this is unrelated to the MCAS faults which lead to two crashes by forcing the nose of the aircraft down. The second fault related to the autopilot, which could see the system suddenly disengage during landing procedures.
Boeing has said that they will soon deploy an update to the flight control software that will eliminate both issues which have not been observed during any flights to date. In preparation for the recertification flight, Boeing has conducted test flights in early 2020 using a MAX 7 as an MCAS test plane. Aviation enthusiasts spotted the plane going between several airports in the US and no doubt were left wondering why a MAX was flying. These tests served to identify a flaw in an indicator light warning on the aircraft trim system.
With all this new information, it is reasonable to assume we will see the 737 MAX back in service in the near future, but with COVID-19 having so many planes on the ground, it could be quite some time before you find yourself taking a trip a fully recertified Boeing 737 MAX.