Transport Canada to conduct flight test for Boeing 737 MAX next week

MONTREAL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Transport Canada plans to conduct flight test activities for the validation of Boeing Co’s (BA.N) grounded 737 MAX next week, the regulator told Reuters on Thursday, as part of global efforts to return the plane to service following two fatal crashes involving the model.

Transport Canada is said to be the first non-U.S. regulator to conduct such activities, following test flights performed earlier this summer by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which is tasked with certifying the aircraft.

Canada’s tests will be held at the U.S. planemaker’s facilities in Washington State, according to two sources.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) does not currently have a schedule for such tests, a spokeswoman said.

Foreign regulators have been scrutinizing proposed software changes and training revisions for the MAX, which may only return to service in 2021.

The Canadian tests are part of the regulator’s “independent review” on whether to validate proposed changes by Boeing to the aircraft, Transport Canada said.

“These tests will validate key areas of the FAA certification,” it said.

TC said it is preparing to participate in the U.S.-led Joint Operational Evaluation Board (JOEB) which would evaluate minimum pilot training requirements with partners from Europe and Brazil. JOEB is currently planned for mid-September, according to a person briefed on the matter.

“The scheduling and participation in the JOEB is dependent on the outcomes of the current certification and validation activities,” Transport Canada said.

The FAA said “each country will make its own decision” on return to service and said “JOEB is the next milestone.”

TC said it would be “premature” to reveal details about “the design configuration, flight crew procedures and training requirements before the validation activity is complete.”

The MAX was grounded in March 2019 after two crashes killed 346 people.

Boeing stock closed up 0.18% to $169.58.

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