According to sources within Boeing, the programme will be conducted by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) using their own pilots and test team.
The type has been grounded worldwide following two fatal accidents linked to its flight control software, in particular Boeing’s Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).
MCAS was designed to counteract the characteristics of the aircraft following the fitment of the new LEAP Engines. The position change gave the aircraft a tendency to pitch up in certain stages of flight. MCAS counter acted that automatically.
However, the crash of Lion Air 610 in 2018 and Ethiopian 302 in 2019 both happened because of the MCAS system. Combined the two crashes resulted in the deaths of 346 passengers and crew.
The flight test programme will see test pilots deliberately trigger the MCAS system to ensure it works correctly and can be safely overridden by the pilot if the need arises.
The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has already said that re-certification of the Boeing 737 Max range in Europe will not be automatic based on the FAA.
TUI Airways UK and Norwegian Air International are two airlines flying from the UK with the 737 Max 8 in their fleet.
Ryanair also have a large order for the type which is overdue for delivery.