MOSCOW, April 18. /TASS/. US aircraft maker Boeing announced on Thursday it had completed the flight trials of the Boeing 737 MAX plane featuring updated software.
"We are making steady progress toward certification. Yesterday, we completed the official engineering flight test of the updated software with our technical and engineering leaders onboard the airplane. That was the final test flight prior to the certification flight," Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in a video addressed, released on Twitter.
The company’s pilots conducted 120 flight tests of the aircraft, totaling more than 203 hours of air time. The aircraft were equipped with the updated Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), whose failure is blamed for the Boeing 737 MAX crash in Ethiopia.
Boeing officials announced in mid-March the company was pausing deliveries of 737 Max to customers due to the temporary grounding, caused by two fatal crashes within the period of about six months. The US Federal Aviation Administration said last month it prohibited all flights of Boeing 737 MAX in the US airspace.
On April 4, Muilenburg admitted that shortly before crashing, the two ill-fated Boeing 737 MAX - the ones lost on October 29, 2018 in Indonesia and on March 10, 2019 in Ethiopia - activated the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) in response to erroneous angle of attack information.
On March 10, Ethiopian Airlines’ Boeing 737 Max 8 had taken off from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, and was on route to Nairobi, Kenya, when it crashed around 60 km to the south-west of the Ethiopian capital. The crash killed 157 people from 35 countries, including three Russian citizens. In October 2018, that same jet model belonging to Indonesian Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea shortly after taking off from Jakarta Airport, killing all 189 people onboard.
Soon after the crash in Ethiopia, many countries, including Russia, the United States and the European Union, suspended Boeing 737 Max 8 and 9 flights for safety concerns.