Call it the ultimate test for U.S. regulators.
Federal Aviation Administration chief Steve Dickson is set to take the controls of a Boeing 737 MAX on Wednesday (September 30).
A former military and commercial pilot, he’ll conduct a two-hour test flight.
For Boeing it’s another milestone in its bid to get the troubled jet back into service.
The MAX has been grounded since March last year, following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people.
That plunged the planemaker into its worst-ever crisis.
But regulators need to restore their reputation too.
The FAA has faced severe criticism for how it certified the MAX as safe to fly.
Now Dickson says he won’t sign off on any return to service until he’s satisfied he’d be happy to put his own family on the plane.
During Wednesday’s flight he’ll test design upgrades meant to prevent new crashes.
Most focus on control systems believed to have caused the two incidents.
If the flight and other tests go well, industry sources say the FAA is expected to lift its grounding order in late November.
That could see the jet back in airline service before the end of the year.
Last week European regulators said they could lift their ban not long after the FAA.