Boeing CEO Has Flown On Two 737 MAX Test Flights Since Worldwide Ban

Dennis Muilenburg, CEO of  Boeing, has revealed that he himself has flown on two 737 MAX test flights in the past few months. Boeing has flown the MAX on more than 500 test flights since its grounding. Using the 737 MAX 7, which is yet to be delivered to airlines, the manufacturer has been putting the jets through their paces to gather data vital to the FAA recertification process.

Boeing 737 MAX
The 737 MAX has undertaken more than 500 test flights. Photo: Boeing

It was revealed on Monday that Boeing, in a bid to win back trust, has conducted more than 500 test flights of the beleaguered 737 MAX. More than that, Boeing’s CEO Dennis Muilenburg, has confirmed that he personally flew on two of those test flights.

He claims that other Boeing employees are ‘eager to do the same’ but admits that the company has much work to do if it’s to win back the confidence of the traveling public. Speaking to CNBC, Muilenburg said,

“We know that trust has been damaged over the last few months, and we own that and we are working hard to re-earn that trust going forward,”

Despite speculation that the timescales for recertification could, again, be slipping, Muilenberg reiterated that the plan is still to submit the certification package to the FAA in September. He remains confident that the jet will return to service in the early part of the fourth quarter.

How is Boeing conducting test flights?

With the 737 MAX 8 and 9 banned from flight according to the FAAs ruling, how is Boeing managing to conduct so many test flights of the aircraft? Well, according to Wired, it’s down to the little brother of the troubled jet, and the fact that it’s still allowed to fly.

737 test flight
Wired noted a 737 MAX 7 test flight which took place earlier this week. Photo: Flight Radar 24

Wired noted a flight taken by a 737 MAX 7, which took off from Boeing Field near Seattle and headed out over the Pacific, where it proceeded to undertake a number of aerial maneuvers. Flying at a variety of altitudes and speeds, the MAX maintained a position away from other air traffic while it conducted what Boeing has called an ‘engineering flight’.

MAX 7
The MAX 7 is not grounded. Photo: Boeing

Clearly, this loophole has allowed Boeing to test out the response of a member of the MAX family, without breaking any rules in regard to the ban.

Families want complete recertification

Families of the crash victims have sent letters to the FAA urging them to conduct a full regulatory review. The group, led by Michael Stumo whose daughter was killed in the Ethiopian crash, wants complete recertification of the plane as a new type. Stumo told the New York Times that,

Video of the day:

“The F.A.A. was lax, compliant and captured at the time of the amended type certification. There needs to be a full recertification to catch anything and make sure it’s safe to fly again.”


While a full recertification of the MAX would throw Boeing into chaos, as well as its suppliers, the chances of this happening are pretty slim. If it was ever going to happen, it probably would have by now. But, despite the long odds, the families are serious about bringing the issues to light.

Regardless of how far the scrutiny of the MAX goes, what remains clear is that none will fly before the end of the summer period. According to OAG, this means a loss of more than 40 million seats this season. Some of the most affected carriers include Air Canada, who are down 3.2m seats, Turkish, down 2.7m, China Southern, down 3.6m and Southwest down 2.9m

As more issues continue to arise, and the solutions become even more complex, Boeing has a tough time ahead of them to get their bestselling jet back into the skies.

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Nigel

The 2 flights in question probably had flaps extended for the full flight, so that MCAS couldn’t trigger 😏

RM

Probably

JackFlash

Corner case – Take off on manual, put single read AoA to sudden 60 degree incline. See how they enjoy it.

Drew

These people are absolutely dillusional if they think that in 2019 people will be dumb enough to fall for a “rebranding” of the plane. People have cell phones and internet – one precautionary landing and Boeing and any airline flying the plane loses all credibility. No one trust them. I learned today that most Boeing board members have no experience in aviation (Nikki Haley!). Airlines risk major PR damage if they try to force customers to fly this thing. Scratch it. Build a new plane. Spare no expense with engineers and certification. The business “do it as cheap as possible… Read more »

Niklas

Like GE…. Boeing have people on the Board… They may be more effective like a Golf Player in an Engineering Office or siting as politicians. Please … Ethics and Sustainability are also link to Responsibilities. So Board companies need to review totally the policy their recruitments, and impose 40 % of knowledge-wise resources ( capital competences to business they lead ), to allowing a comprehensive leadership and bring a real added values to the companies, no politicians should be allowed to take a position in a Board a company like GE or Boeing…like we do in Europe, it should be… Read more »

Vee

Yep

Ravioliollie

Does the Max 7 have the same operating system as the Max 8, or do I notice a bait and switch for these feel good test flights??

Nigel

It has the same basic operating system, but will have different flight dynamics, due to the different size / weight / thrust ratios…

MB

Those of a certain age in the UK will remember John Gummer feeding his daughter a beef burger at the height of the UK’s BSE crisis. I am reminded of this every time politicians, and CEOs, pull stunts like this. They will be willing to do absolutely anything at all to repair their image.

Niklas

Absolutly….true

Nigel

I wonder if the US Congress has the power to force the FAA to do a full re-certification (as the crash families are requesting) rather than a partial re-certification. Does anyone know?

Nigel

Interestingly, if I look at the depicted flight path of the test 737 MAX 7, it climbs to a given level, flies a few rounds out over the sea at that level, and then goes back to Seattle. To do a proper test of MCAS, you’d think the plane would be making repeated climbouts under different circumstances…which would require a repeated pattern of descend – climb – descend – climb. One really wonders what they were testing here…the airco?

Elis

The fact that many Boeing’s workers and board members are willing to put their own FAMILY safety to repair the company image really bothers me.

Would you put dozens of innocent childrens on test flights in an aircraft that have fatal flaw that haven’t been certified to fly?

I know I wouldn’t. But hey, anything for them green benjamin.

Shapes

I’m sure it’s more a case of “tow the line” “everyone at boing WILL fly the max” or find your career stalled (no pun intended)

Bob Braan

Not all Boeing employees are eager to fly the Max. Maybe non-technical ones.
One of Boeing’s lead engineers who worked on the 737 Max said: “My family won’t fly on a 737 Max. It’s frightening to see such a major incident because of a system that didn’t function properly or accurately.”
https://www.bbc.com/news/business-49142761

Nigel

The same link talks about the financial-incentive-driven management at Boeing, and the fact that share value was/is more important than safety. In that context, it’s interesting to note that “Dollar Dennis” was pandering to shareholders yesterday:

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/boeing-ceo-sticks-to-q4-timeline-for-737-maxs-servi-460152/

Bob Braan

The way it’s going Boeing will be the downfall of Boeing. The 737 Max disasters are just a symptom of a massive shift in corporate culture. Boeing used to be an engineering company, not one run soley by bean counters. They used to be among the safest in the world. They need to fire upper management and go back to that. Maybe upper management will be removed and put in jail for negligence causing death as a result of the criminal investigations. Bean counters are just score keepers. Keeping score is important but no one lets the score keepers play… Read more »

Bob Braan

Airbus/Bombardier will likely quickly develop a modern aircraft the capacity of the 737 based on the new C series/A220 with much quieter, more efficient geared turbofan engines which will be much more efficient with a much lower operating cost. That will ground 737s permanently. The A220-500 is already on the drawing board. Airlines already want it. And it hasn’t killed anyone. Bonus.

Bernie

That’s probably why Boeing was in a hurry.

Nigel

And it’s not just the MAX debacle…don’t forget the ongoing quality issues with 787s from the Charleston plant. Just 2 days ago, KLM complained that their new (delayed) 787-10 from Charleston was full of shoddy flaws…including improperly secured fuel lines. The link is in Dutch:

https://www.luchtvaartnieuws.nl/nieuws/categorie/2/airlines/klm-klaagt-over-kwaliteitscontrole-in-boeing-787-fabriek

Bob Braan

Also Boeing workmanship is so bad on the Air Force’s new tanker aircraft that they refused any more deliveries. Tools and parts were found left inside sealed areas of the aircraft. Garbage has also been found in brand new 787s, including a ladder that could have jammed the tail. Qatar Airways has refused delivery.
https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/20/business/boeing-dreamliner-production-problems.html

Bob Braan

Boeing now prefers to buy back it’s own stock, to inflate the price, and pay dividends rather than invest in new products, quality or safety.
https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-12-17/boeing-sets-new-20-billion-buyback-plan-raises-dividend-20

Bernie

500 test flights in a MAX (type) -7. Really !

Nigel

Wouldn’t it be embarrassing if regulators countered that these test flights are irrelevant, because they were only done on a 7 rather than an 8? 🙄

Norm

BOEING should take Mr. President, Congress, Senate, Board of Directors, and please, don’t forget Pompeous and Bolsón with accompanied Families, for a Full 10 Hour flight every week, until the FAA gives its Blessing for lifting the US grounding. This will not be a Tacit Approval for the Rest of the World to approve same.

Chris

“… end of the summer period.” I presume this is the northern hemisphere summer?

Tony

ORRRRRR Chris, the southern hemisphere where it ends in February!

Observer33210

Why do Boeing and the FAA simply assume that a quick re-certification of the 737 Max, based only on software modifications, and without a full regulatory review, will convince the public to board the plane? This is not going to happen. People no longer have a short memory because this is the age of social media, and too many people already know and talk about the structural aerodynamic flaw of the Max. It will also not convince the EASA to also re-certify the plane, because the EASA checklist of concerns they want resolved before even considering recertification will not have… Read more »

Shapes

This is arrogance at work with no touch on reality. Yes they think some free in flight entertainment and it will all be forgotten.