(Reuters) – The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said on Thursday it plans to commence flight tests for Boeing Co’s (BA.N) 737 MAX plane in Vancouver, Canada, in the week starting Sept. 7.
EASA’s test flights come more than two months after the U.S. regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, and Boeing completed certification test flights on the 737 MAX, a move viewed as a key milestone toward its return to service.
The MAX has been grounded since March 2019 after two fatal crashes in five months killed 346 people.
“While Boeing still has some final actions to close off, EASA judges the overall maturity of the re-design process is now sufficient to proceed to flight tests,” the agency said. (bit.ly/3jo9Xo9)
EASA has been working with the FAA and Boeing to schedule the flight tests, a process which was hindered by COVID-19 travel restrictions between Europe and the United States.
Boeing told analysts in late July that MAX deliveries would resume in the fourth quarter, a timeline that raises the prospect that the aircraft’s U.S. return to service could slip into 2021.