Boe­ing be­gins cru­cial cer­ti­fi­ca­tion test flights for grounded 737 Max

STOCK RISES 14.4%

National Post (National Edition) - - FINANCIAL POST - ERIC M. JOHN­SON AND DAVID SHEPARDSON

SEAT­TLE/WASHINGTON

A Boe­ing Co. 737 Max took off on Mon­day from a Seat­tle-area air­port on the first day of cer­ti­fi­ca­tion flight test­ing with U.S. Fed­eral Avi­a­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tion and com­pany test pi­lots, a cru­cial mo­ment in the plane­maker’s worst-ever cri­sis.

Boe­ing Flight 701 de­parted King County In­ter­na­tional Air­port, which is also known as Boe­ing Field, around 09:55 a.m. PT. It was sched­uled to land two hours later at Moses Lake air­port in east­ern Washington, peo­ple fa­mil­iar with the flight plan said. The plane was then sched­uled to fly back to Seat­tle.

Boe­ing gained 14.4 per cent to close at US$194.42 on the news.

If the 737 Max gains FAA ap­proval to re­turn to commercial ser­vice, not likely to hap­pen un­til Septem­ber, it is ex­pected to spark a scram­ble by Boe­ing to de­ter­mine the fate of hun­dreds of parked jets.

De­liv­er­ies to air­lines were frozen after the jet’s safety ban in March 2019 fol­low­ing the sec­ond of two fa­tal crashes that to­gether killed 346 peo­ple, but Boe­ing con­tin­ued to pro­duce and store jets for months, hop­ing for a quick re­turn to ser­vice.

That means there are 450 jets that Boe­ing is ea­ger to de­liver once the Max is cleared to fly, though ex­perts say the prospect of mov­ing those quickly has been di­min­ished by the coro­n­avirus cri­sis. Air­lines have also grounded a fur­ther 385 of the jets in their fleets. U.S. air­lines have said it will take them be­tween 30 and 60 days after reg­u­la­tory ap­proval to pre­pare their jets and pi­lots for flight.

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