The FAA has said that it will exclusively issue airworthiness certificates for the Boeing 737 MAX following its return to service. Previously, Boeing had been able to issue its own airworthiness certificates when aircraft were completed in Seattle.
In mid-December, the Boeing 737 MAX will have been grounded for nine months. However, Boeing is hoping that the FAA will recertify the Boeing 737 MAX by the end of the year. This would allow the American aircraft manufacturer to recommence deliveries of the aircraft in December of this year. However, each Boeing 737 MAX will now have to be certified by the FAA one by one prior to delivery.
In the public interest
According to Reuters, the FAA sent a letter to Boeing informing them of its decision regarding the issuance of airworthiness certificates to individual aircraft. The letter is reported to have said:
“[The FAA] has determined that the public interest and safety in air commerce require that the FAA retain authority to issue airworthiness certificates and export certificates of airworthiness for all 737 MAX airplanes.”
While Boeing has been able to issue airworthiness certificates for the Boeing 737 MAX up until now, the process will now be completed by the Federal Aviation Administration. As a result, each 737 MAX airframe will be certified as airworthy by the FAA before leaving the planemaker.
What does Boeing think?
Up until now, Boeing has been able to individually certify that its aircraft were airworthy. Now, however, the FAA will exclusively perform that role until “[Boeing has] fully functional quality control and verification processes in place”.
At the time of writing, Boeing had yet to respond to a request for comment from Simple Flying. However, a Boeing spokesperson told Reuters,
“We continue to follow the lead of the FAA and global regulators. They will determine when key milestones are achieved and when the fleet and training requirements are certified so the MAX can safely return to service.”
Boeing has built up quite the backlog of 737 MAX aircraft awaiting delivery. In fact, no aircraft have been delivered since March, although aircraft have still been constructed. This means that many aircraft are sat in Seattle waiting to be delivered. They are even sat in car parks.
Once the aircraft’s grounding is lifted the FAA will now be tasked with issuing an airworthiness certificate to each aircraft before they are delivered, either within the US or abroad. As other aviation authorities may want to certify the aircraft themselves, this may be a simpler process within the US. After all, the FAA wouldn’t issue an airworthiness certificate if it didn’t want the aircraft flying.
When do you think the Boeing 737 MAX will return to the skies? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.