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Flights begin for Boeing 737 MAX re-certification process

Boeing's Renton facility. (AP)

A Boeing 737 MAX took off from Boeing Field on Monday as part of the re-certification process, according to The Seattle Times.

The plane spent about two hours in the air, heading east to Moses Lake and back via a route near the Washington-Oregon border, The Times reports. The plane landed back in Seattle just after 2pm.

The company needs clearance from the FAA before the planes can fly again, and the test flights, with FAA test pilots, are a key step. They would take several days and would evaluate Boeing’s proposed changes to the automated flight control system on the Max.

The flight control system, triggered by faulty readings from sensors, pushed the planes into nosedives that led to crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, killing 346 people.

Even if no new problems are discovered during the test flights, it’s likely to take at least a month to get pilots trained and get mothballed planes upgraded, inspected and serviced. The FAA has to sign off on Boeing’s pilot-training program, and a panel of international regulators will comment on minimum pilot training too.

Boeing said it deferred to the FAA and global regulators on the Max certification process.

Nearly 400 Max planes had been delivered to airlines before they were grounded, and Boeing has built several hundred more.

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