Boeing Receives FAA Approval to Fly Its 737 MAX

Boeing 737MAX
Pilot training and software upgrades will focus on a system intended to prevent the 737 MAX from pitching upward during flight. In both disasters, the system shoving down the jet's nose as pilots struggled to regain control.

In a November 18th newswire, Boeing announced that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today rescinded the order that halted commercial operations of Boeing 737-8s and 737-9s. The move will allow airlines that are under the FAA’s jurisdiction, including those in the U.S., to take the steps necessary to resume service and Boeing to begin making deliveries.

The FAA has given clearance for the Boeing 737 MAX to fly again after being grounded for almost two years.

Though the aircraft got the green light from the FAA, it will not be carrying passengers right away because the agency said it must approve 737 MAX pilot training program revisions for each US airline that uses the plane, AFP reported.

In addition, regulators in other countries want to recertify the aircraft.

Throughout the past 20 months, Boeing has worked closely with airlines, providing them with detailed recommendations regarding long-term storage and ensuring their input was part of the effort to safely return the airplanes to service.

An Airworthiness Directive issued by the FAA spells out the requirements that must be met before U.S. carriers can resume service, including installing software enhancements, completing wire separation modifications, conducting pilot training and accomplishing thorough de-preservation activities that will ensure the airplanes are ready for service.

FAA head, Steve Dickson, took to the controls of the 737 Max during testing on a two- hour flight.
FAA head, Steve Dickson, took to the controls of the 737 Max during testing on a two- hour flight.

The top-selling planes were grounded in March 2019 after two deadly crashes barely five months apart claimed a total of 346 lives. Regulators around the world grounded the Max in March 2019, after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet. Only five months before, another Max flown by Indonesia´s Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea.  

Both disasters were due to a flaw in a safety system designed to prevent the nose of the plane from pitching up during flight.

Boeing must make software upgrades and training changes to resume commercial flights, but several U.S. carriers have already indicated they’ll resume using the 737 MAX, including United and American Airlines. An upgrade of a jet first introduced in the 1960s, the 737 MAX was rolled out in 2017 and is Boeing’s top-selling jet.

The jet was grounded globally in the spring of 2019 after the October 29, 2018 crash of a Lion Air 737 MAX in Indonesia that killed 189 was soon followed by the March 10, 2019, crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX that killed 157.

Federal Aviation Administration chief Stephen Dickson signed an order rescinding the grounding. U.S. airlines will be able to fly the Max once Boeing updates critical software and computers on each plane and pilots receive training in flight simulators.

Dickson, who took over in August 2019, said he felt ‘100% confident’ in the 737 MAX.

‘We’ve done everything humanly possible to make sure’ these types of crashes do not happen again, Dickson told Reuters, adding that design changes to the jet ‘have eliminated what caused these particular accidents.’

American is the only U.S. airline to put the Max back in its schedule so far, starting with one round trip daily between New York and Miami from December 29. 

New pilot training and software upgrades will focus on the plane’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), which is intended to counter a tendency for the nose of the 737 MAX to rise up.

When the 737 MAX does return to the skies, Boeing will be running a 24-hour war room to monitor flights, Reuters reported.

The agency also plans in-person inspections of hundreds of jets built during the ban, slowing their distribution by months, if not years.

Check out video of test flight by FAA head, Steve Dickson:

Joseph Alba
Mr. Alba was previously Editor of the Airport Press for 12 years covering both local as well as global aviation news. Prior to this, Mr. Alba had Executive positions in Systems Engineering and Marketing with IBM World Trade, and had foreign assignments in the Far East and Latin America earning three Outstanding Achievement Awards. Mr. Alba also directed a new function dealing with Alternate Fuels for Public Service Electric & Gas company in New Jersey and founded a Natural Gas Vehicle Consortium consisting of car company executives and fleet owners, and NGV suppliers in New Jersey. Mr. Alba was a founding partner of ATA, an IT Consulting company which is still active in Central and South America. After leaving the armed forces, Mr. Alba’s initial employee was the U.S. Defense Department as an analyst.


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