May 12, 2017 / 7:51 PM / in 2 years

Boeing resumes 737 MAX test flights after brief grounding

(Reuters) - Boeing Co (BA.N) said on Friday it resumed test flights of its $110-million 737 MAX 8 jetliner, just two days after saying it had grounded the entire fleet to address an engine problem.

Various models of the Boeing 737 sit parked on the tarmac at Boeing Field after coming off the production line in Seattle, Washington, May 9, 2017. Picture taken May 9, 2017. REUTERS/Jason Redmond

The resumption of flights, which the plane maker said was backed by air safety regulators, is good news for Boeing and engine-maker CFM International, a joint venture between General Electric Co (GE.N) and Safran SA (SAF.PA) of France.

CFM had said flaws in the forging of a disc inside the engine could have led to cracks.

Boeing grounded the fleet late last week, and announced it on Wednesday, just days before it planned to deliver its first 737 MAX 8 to an airline.

Inability to fly the plane could have threatened Boeing’s ability to deliver the new jetliners on time.

The company said a 737 MAX 8 took off around 12:15 pm Pacific Time on Friday.

Boeing spokesman Doug Alder said regulators supported the resumption of flights.

“Our plan remains to start deliveries this month,” he said, noting the flights are with planes that do not have the suspect discs.

Alder declined to say when the inspection and possible repair of any engines with the suspect discs would be complete.

The engines, known as the LEAP-1B, were being shipped back to plants in Lafayette, Indiana, and Villeroche, France, for inspection.

Safran Aircraft Engines Chief Executive Olivier Andries told reporters on Thursday that the company hoped to fix the problem “within a few weeks.”

Alder also declined to estimate the potential cost, or say whether any faulty discs had been found so far.

The problem stemmed from a forging issue noticed on low-pressure turbine discs after they were sent to CFM from a supplier. A second supplier had stepped up production, CFM said.

Andries said on Thursday that CFM still hoped to deliver as many as 500 LEAP engines this year, including variants used by Airbus (AIR.PA) And China’s COMAC.

Reporting by Alwyn Scott in Seattle and Arunima Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila

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