By TOM MCKEEN, APB StaffThe world’s biggest carrier has begun a public warning about the jet’s safety problems, which include the possibility of a catastrophic crash.
The carrier announced Tuesday that it has begun testing the Boeing 737 MAX 787 Dreamliner to see if it can withstand a collision with an aircraft that could cause significant damage.
The 737 MAX has not been certified to fly in the U.S., but the company said that it would test its handling in the event of a collision.
Virgin is testing the jet in New York City and London, and it is planning to fly it to Frankfurt, Germany, later this year.
The company said it would offer the jet to airlines to test the airframe’s handling in an effort to ensure it is safe.
Virgin says that a preliminary test flight has been conducted in a test airport in Dubai, but that the plane’s flight recorders are not operational, which means it will not be able to fly.
The jet is undergoing extensive testing, and the company says that its engines, wings and landing gear will be tested in an attempt to verify that they will operate safely.
In an earlier announcement, Virgin said it has ordered about 800 of the 787s, including the Dreamliners, and is preparing to ship them to customers by the end of the year.
The announcement came as Virgin, the world’s second-largest carrier, continued to struggle with rising safety concerns.
The airline is now facing the prospect of losing billions of dollars in revenue as its jetliner sales plunge, even though the plane is being redesigned to be more fuel-efficient and more efficient at cruising altitude.
In April, Virgin Group Chief Executive Jeremy Downes said the airline will begin shipping the Dreamliner in 2019.
The aircraft, which is manufactured by Bombardier Inc., is expected to go into production in 2021, a time when Virgin is expected do $20 billion in revenue and generate $7.5 billion in gross profit.
The company is also working to save money by shifting its flight schedule from New York to Frankfurt for the second half of the 2020s.
It is also building a new $2.5-billion, $3.5 million terminal at its London airport that will replace the existing airport.
The terminal is scheduled to open in 2018.