Smartwings Operates 2 Hour Boeing 737 MAX Flight Over Prague

On Wednesday, low-cost Czech carrier Smartwings performed a just over 2-hour long test flight of one of its Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft. The plane took off at 12.22 from Prague’s Vaclav Havel Airport and landed back again at 14.38. 

Smartwings MAX 8 test flight
On Wednesday, the Czech low-cost carrier performed a 2-hour test flight of one of its Boeing 737 MAX planes. Photo: Felix Riehle via Wikimedia Commons

One of the first airlines to receive the MAX

The two-year-old plane, that has not seen much action since being grounded for a little over a year, was taken for a spin in a southeasterly direction over the city of Brno. It traveled in a square-like pattern, turning northwest again to return to the Czech capital. It is still unclear exactly why the flight was undertaken.

Smartwings took delivery of the now grounded aircraft on the 31st of January 2018. It was one of the first airlines in the world to receive the new model. It now owns seven Boeing 737 MAXs, with an order for another 32 to be delivered over the next four years.

flight path smartwings Boeing 737 MAX
The flight path of Smartwings test flight of the MAX 8. Photo: FlightRadar24

Boeing’s own test flights

Boeing has itself been flying a 737 MAX around the US with test crews and no passengers on board to prepare for the aircraft’s return to service. The manufacturer is regularly testing the updates it has made to the plane before it is examined by regulators. 


In its latest statement on the eventual return of the aircraft back into service, issued on the 21st of January, Boeing estimated that the plane would be ungrounded somewhere around the middle of the year. The company said that this was informed by its experience to date with the certification process. While a recertification flight might not be far away, Boeing also said that:

“It is subject to our ongoing attempts to address known schedule risks and further developments that may arise in connection with the certification process. It also accounts for the rigorous scrutiny that regulatory authorities are rightly applying at every step of their review of the 737 MAX’s flight control system and the Joint Operations Evaluation Board process which determines pilot training requirements.”

Boeing is also conducting numerous test flights for the MAX 8 over the US. Photo: Boeing.

Software updates and training upgrades

Boeing has been working on an update to the plane’s software system as well as implementing and upgrading its pilot training for the plane. On the 7th of January this year, according to CNBC news, it recommended that all pilots undergo simulation training before the plane is released back into service. 

Investigators found that a malfunctioning software system that caused the plane’s nose to point repeatedly downward, along with some errors by the crew, was behind two lethal crashes that caused the MAX to be taken out of the skies. Both of these amendments will need to be approved by regulators before it will be allowed to fly again. 

Boeing 737 MAX, Grounding, One Year
The MAX 8 is the most popular of the 737 MAX family. It has been grounded for a little over a year. Photo: Getty Images

The MAX family

The MAX 8 is the most popular model of the 737 MAX family. It made its first flight on the 29th of January 2016 and entered passenger service with Malaysia’s Malindo Air on the 22nd of May in 2017. It’s designed for short- and medium-haul flights but it also has the range to fly transatlantic routes and between mainland US and Hawaii. Compared with previous models of the 737, the MAX’s engines sit farther forward and higher up on the underwing pylons. 


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Niklas Andersson

Smartswings …..??????? Really?

Barend de Klerk

Kevin if you fly 40+ flights a year before the end of 2021 you will most likely travel on a Max. There are 4636 on order!

Davy Crockett

Don’t want to spoil the party, but I’ve read so many unsavoury things about Boeing and its planes, procedures and management since the Max was grounded that it’ll be a long time before I willingly fly a Max by choice,

Timothy Allen

Back in 1986, I had a computer that ran on an Intel 80286 processor. In order to avoid re-certification of the 737 Max – an all other derivatives of it built since then – Boeing continues to use the 80286 processor. The Max 80286 processors are taxed way over the… Read more »

John Owen-Ellis

Trying to overcome a problem, caused basically by a change in the larger jet engine altering the aerodynamics, with inadequate sensor and software integrity is not what one should expect from Boeing. Clearly they were driven by greed and were desperate to beat Airbus. I will take a lot of… Read more »

Brad Swanson

MCAS is a complicated and dangerous solution for the engineering problem of mounting engines that don’t fit on this plane! It should never be certified. Boeing made this choice from the boardroom rather than giving the call to the engineers.

Andrew Palmer

Likely to maintain crew proficiency. Air Canada flew some of its MAXs last year for that reason.

Jack Bacon

Canada regulators were spot on saying there’s no need for the MCAS at all. Train without it and add an endorsement to the B-737 Type Rating.

David Albright

You don’t get it . When something happens to a usa airplane it is fixed. Which makes it the safest airplane in the world. I would fly the max any time any where. 22000 hrs pilot flew for 43 yrs. In the business.

William Dowda

I disagree with the comment that MCAS malfunctioned. I think it did what it was supposed to do. The crews of both ill fated flights were caught with little time to do what they needed to prevent crashing. No matter what is going to be the remedy for those incidents,… Read more »

William Dowda

I disagree with the comment that MCAS malfunctioned. I think it did what it was supposed to do. The crews of both ill fated flights were caught with little time to do what they needed to prevent crashing. No matter what is going to be the remedy for those incidents,… Read more »

Martin Terence

I will not fly in a Max for free.