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FAA Reiterates It Has The Final Say In Boeing 737 MAX Return To Service

End-Of-Year Timeline Seems Unlikely, According To The Agency

It seems unlikely that the Boeing 737 MAX will return to service by the end of 2019, a target the planemaker has hoped to meet.

CNBC reports that the FAA released a statement saying it has "not completed its review of the 737 Max aircraft design changes and associated pilot training. The agency will not approve the aircraft for return to service until it has completed numerous rounds of rigorous testing."

The statement follows an update posted November 11 on but Boeing website indicating that the company "continues to target FAA certification of the MAX flight control software updates during this quarter. Based on this schedule, it is possible that the resumption of MAX deliveries to airline customers could begin in December, after certification, when the FAA issues an Airworthiness Directive rescinding the grounding order. In parallel, we are working towards final validation of the updated training requirements, which must occur before the MAX returns to commercial service, and which we now expect to begin in January."

In that update, Boeing outlined five key milestones Boeing must complete with the FAA before the airplane can return to service:

  • FAA eCab Simulator Certification Session: A multi-day eCab simulator evaluation with the FAA to ensure the overall software system performs its intended function, both normally and in the presence of system failures.
  • FAA Line Pilots Crew Workload Evaluation: A separate, multi-day simulator session with airline pilots to assess human factors and crew workload under various test conditions.
  • FAA Certification Flight Test: FAA pilots will conduct a certification flight(s) of the final updated software.
  • Boeing Final Submittal to the FAA: After completion of the FAA certification flight, Boeing will submit the final certification deliverables and artifacts to the FAA to support software certification.
  • Joint Operational Evaluation Board (JOEB) Simulator Training Evaluation: The Joint Operational Evaluation Board (JOEB), a multi-regulatory body, conducts a multi-day simulator session with global regulatory pilots to validate training requirements. Following the simulator session, the Flight Standardization Board will release a report for a public comment period, followed by final approval of the training.

Boeing said it and the FAA successfully concluded the first of these milestones earlier in November, and are now working towards the FAA line pilots evaluation and the FAA certification flight test.

But in both an internal letter to FAA employees and a video released following the Boeing update, FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson said the agency "fully controls the approval process."

In its most recent statement, the FAA said that recertification would come only after all of the steps outlined above were completed. “Issuance of the Airworthiness Certificate is the final FAA action affirming that each newly manufactured 737 Max is airworthy," the agency said.

Some international safety agencies have indicated that they will not automatically recertify the aircraft when the FAA gives its approval for a return to service.

(Image from file)

FMI: Source report
Boeing statement

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