The ill-fated jet has been grounded worldwide since March 2019, after it was involved in two fatal crashes caused by an issue in the plane’s anti-stall system, known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).
The fault repeatedly forced the nose of the aircraft down and ultimately resulted in the Lion Air and Ethiopia Airlines crashes of October 2018 and March 2019, killing 346 people in total.
Boeing has been working since then to fix the problem, and the planemaker recently revealed the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) had granted it permission to start test flights, raising hopes of a return to commercial service in the not-too-distant future.
The first departure was at 9.55am from Boeing Field, south of Seattle, on a one-hour flight to Grant County airport in central Washington State.
We caught the 737 landing on the North side of Boeing Field! This is the beginning of the 737 MAX re-certification test flights. While the video experienced heat distortion, it was quite a sight! pic.twitter.com/orYeTk74Lq— The Museum of Flight (@museumofflight)June 29, 2020
Boeing shares soared by 5 per cent in response to the news.
The Museum of Flight filmed one of the 737 Max aircraft doing a test flight and uploaded the footage to social media.
“We caught the 737 landing on the North side of Boeing Field!” the account tweeted. “This is the beginning of the 737 MAX re-certification test flights.
“While the video experienced heat distortion, it was quite a sight!”
Even when the aircraft is cleared to fly, it will take some time for the 47 airlines with Max aircraft to prepare the 370-plus grounded planes for service.