FAA Chief Defends Handling of Boeing Max Safety Approval

Evarado Alatorre
May 18, 2019

Boeing has completed development of a software update for the 737 Max, which has been grounded since the model suffered a second fatal crash more than two months ago.

In addition to updating the 737 MAX software and completing more than 360 hours on 207 flights (simulate and actual), it is addressing some of the questions that the FAA had about pilot interaction and emergency responses.

Boeing said that once information on how pilots work with the upgraded system is submitted to the FAA, it will work with the regulator to schedule a certification test flight and submit final certification documentation.

Stephen M. Dickson, President Donald Trump's nominee to run the Federal Aviation Administration, appears before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation for his confirmation hearing, on Capitol Hill in Washington, on May 15, 2019.

It is unclear when the 737 MAX aircraft will return to service, but US airlines have said they hope the jets will fly this summer. A total of 346 people were killed in the crashes. "[.] The accidents have only intensified our commitment to our values, including safety, quality and integrity", said Muilenburg.

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In addition, Boeing has developed enhanced training and education materials that are now being reviewed with the FAA, global regulators, and airline customers to support return-to-service and longer-term operations.

USA airlines have targeted August as the date they expect to resume flying on the 737 MAX.

Besides putting the 737 Max back into the air, Boeing is expected to face compensation demands from airlines. Boeing believes that computer-based training - the type that could be done on iPads - is sufficient for pilots who know how to fly older versions of the 737, and a panel of FAA pilot experts agrees.

Boeing earlier triumphantly announced that it has implemented new failsafe features for the MCAS as well as new training manuals for pilots. "I am not happy with a 13-month gap between finding that anomaly and us finding out about it", Elwell said.

Another issue is pilot training. Critics say Boeing rushed the design of the Max; the company disputes that. And during the hearing, Ranking Member Sam Graves, a Republican from Missouri, who expressed concern about tearing down the USA system based on what happened in other countries, bolstered that view by raising questions about pilot errors in the crashes and their levels of experience. "The reason why they submitted it to us is so we can stick it in the simulator so we could test it, so we can also look at their system safety analysis and see whether it will appropriately address it". When both Boeing and the FAA refused to ground the aircraft, the world's airlines and aviation authorities took things into their own hands.

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