There are indications that the regulatory approvals for allowing Boeing to resume 737 MAX flights could come as early as next week. The US Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), had completed flight tests for certification of the 737 MAX in July and August this year.
Major Milestones of the B737 MAX Certification
FAA followed a very transparent process for re-certifying the 737 MAX. The major milestones are listed in the Table-1 below.
The FAA test flight video is avilable on YouTube. For readers who wish to to have more information, two important FAA reports are available via the links given below.
In October this year, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson himslef piloted an updated Boeing 737 Max in a flight around Seattle. The FAA chief, a former Delta Air Lines pilot, performed several manoeuvres for over two hours. After the test flight. Dickson remarked –
I liked what I saw. It responded well”
Status of B737 MAX Aircraft
Two fatal mid-air accidents, Lion Air (October 29, 2018) and Ethiopian Airways (March 10, 2019) led to the grounding of the aircraft. A major aircraft investigation was launched by several countries. The Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) flight control software developed by Boeing was found to be the root cause of both the crashes.
In March 2019, three hundred and eight-seven (387) B737 MAX serving fifty-nine (59) airlines were grounded. According to Boeing, the company has un-fulfilled orders for more than four thousand (4,147) 737 MAX aircraft.
European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Viewpoint
EASA is the aviation regulator for thirty-two European Union countries. According to Reuters, the agency had some differences with the FAA over the scope of international review of the 737 MAX certification process. These differences have since been resolved and EASA is also looking at approvals to come through in November. However, individual country-specific approvals may take some more time.
Reuters further reported that Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) stated –
For the first time in a year and a half, I can say there’s an end in sight to work on the MAX”
Boeing still has a long road ahead on the 737 MAX program. The manufacturing of the pending aircrafts has to be restarted for over 4000 new aircraft. Contracts have to be re-negotiated with customers. The pilot-confidence has to return with a renewed world-wide training program. Boeing may still have to approach several governments for final clearances. Lastly, and surely not the least, passenger confidence in the aircraft has to return back. The task remains daunting.
The Boeing 737 MAX is sure to hit the skies soon. Are you ready to fly the aircraft again? Please write to us in the comments section below.