EU to begin Boeing 737 Max certification flights

Aviation safety agencies in the EU, US and other countries will need to approve Boeing's 737 Max repairs before the plane can carry passengers again.

Kent German Former senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
Kent German

A Boeing 737 Max lands at Boeing Field in Seattle after a test flight to evaluate the MCAS software fix.

Paul Christian Gordon/Boeing

The EU's aviation regulator will begin certification flights of Boeing's 737 Max airliner next week, taking the grounded airliner another critical step closer to possibly carrying passengers again. The flights will be conducted in Vancouver, British Columbia, while simulator training for Max pilots will take place at London's Gatwick airport. 

In a statement, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency said it's working closely with Boeing during the process. "EASA judges the overall maturity of the redesign process is now sufficient to proceed to flight tests. These are a prerequisite for the European agency to approve the aircraft's new design."

The EASA tests come two months after the FAA completed its own certification flights out of Seattle. The agency has since released a list of changes it says Boeing must make to the Max before it can return to service. Both the EASA and Transport Canada have said their certification of the aircraft will be independent of any FAA approval. 

The Max has been grounded since March 2019 after crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia killed 346 people. Boeing says it has now repaired the MCAS flight control system blamed for both crashes and has predicted the Max could fly again by the end of the year.