While not the summer return to service that airlines were hoping for the FAA has indicated that it expects the 737 MAX to fly this year.
FAA associate administrator for aviation safety, Ali Bahrami, told delegates at an air safety conference in Cologne, Germany, that he expects the 737 MAX to be flying again by December.
According to Business Insider, Bahrami told EASA regulators that the FAA is under a lot of pressure. As such, the aircraft will only return to service when the FAA fully believes it is safe to fly.
Following two fatal crashes within five months that killed 346 people, all 737 MAX aircraft were grounded. They remain so until such time as aviation safety regulators are convinced of its safety. Notably, Boeing themselves opened the Paris Air Show with an apology for the disaster.
Boeing is working on the 737 MAX’s software
Since the two fatal crashes, investigators have put the cause of the accidents down to a stall prevention system known as MCAS – the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System.
Finding a fix is apparently taking Boeing engineers longer than expected. Bloomberg reported today that the FAA is telling congressional staff that the safety analysis that Boeing had done on the 737 MAX may need to be changed.
On hearing this, It’s hard to know exactly what that means for the outlook of getting the planes flying again.
More information could come to light later today as various witnesses, including labour leaders and Captain Sully Sullenberger, the pilot who famously landed a plane on the Hudson River, answer congress’ questions about the 737 MAX and what Boeing is doing to remedy the situation.
How significant is IAG’s decision to purchase 200 737 MAX aircraft?
IAG’s decision to order 200 of the type is a huge endorsement for Boeing. It’s the first deal done for the plane since the grounding in March following the second deadly crash of the 737 MAX.
Not only that, but the CEO of IAG, the parent company of British Airways, Willie Walsh is a former 737 pilot himself. He said in Paris yesterday that he had discussed with Boeing in great detail as to what changes the Seattle plane makers were doing in an attempt to prevent future accidents. Given his experience, Walsh talks with deep knowledge of the situation. To make such a large order at this time is a huge boost for Boeing.
The Sydney Morning Herald, reports Walsh as saying,
“I’ve no doubt that in time people will come to see it as a great aircraft. I fully expect, this aircraft to get a re-entry into service that will have been very rigorous with all of the regulators looking at it,”
Prior to signing a letter of intent to purchase 200 Boeing 737 MAX’s Walsh tested Boeing’s fix for the MCAS on a simulator at Gatwick Airport. Claiming he went into the simulator knowing what to expect when flying the aircraft without the fix, the airline veteran said, “It was easy for me to understand what it felt like.”
When asked about how it felt with the MCAS fix applied, the 57-year-old said, “There’s nothing to see … Nothing happens.”
“Knowing the aircraft as I do from a technical point of view and from my experience as a pilot, I’m very comfortable this will be approved by regulators in due course.” He then added: “Personally, I wouldn’t hesitate to get on a Max aircraft.”
This is a huge endorsement for Boeing, and may help the FAA to speed up their decision making so that airlines can put the 737 MAXs back into their schedules.
Will you fly the MAX when it comes back into service? Let us know in the comments.