FAA gives Boeing permission to begin test flights with troubled 737 MAX aircraft

Until a few months ago, the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX was the biggest crisis to hit the aviation industry in decades, costing airlines and manufacturers billions of dollars.  

Despite the massive scale of the disruption following two separate fatal disasters involving the 737 MAX, its impact has been dwarfed by COVID-19.

So it's no surprise that the aviation industry isn't exactly celebrating the news that Boeing has been given the go ahead to begin test flights of the 737 MAX ahead of a possible return to service.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) told the US congress on Monday (NZ time) that its review of the aircraft had been completed "clearing the way for flight certification testing to begin. Flights with FAA test pilots could begin as early as tomorrow, evaluating Boeing's proposed changes to the automated flight control system on the 737 MAX."

Despite being cleared for testing, the FAA made it clear the 737 MAX "has not made a decision on its return to service".

All 737 MAX aircraft have been grounded since March 2019, following crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed a total of 346 people.

Consistencies between the two crashes and analysis of software data forced the FAA to order the nearly 400 of the aircraft to be grounded internationally until any issues had been identified and fixed by manufacturer, Boeing.