How Will Regulators Test The Boeing 737 MAX Fix?

High on Boeing’s list of priorities is returning the 737 MAX to service. As Boeing works on a software solution, the FAA is working on their plans to recertify the aircraft. Central to the recertification is how pilots will be able to deal with the MCAS system in case of issues. Now, new reports indicate that the Federal Aviation Administration, or FAA, will test the Boeing 737 MAX with pilots who have limited experience with Boeing 737 aircraft.

Boeing 737 MAX
One of the most important priorities for Boeing is to return the 737 MAX to service. Photo: Boeing

The FAA intends to use inexperienced pilots

Skift is reporting that some of the pilots the FAA will bring in will have little experience with the Boeing 737. Instead of testing the pilots on actual 737 MAX aircraft, the FAA will use flight simulators. The safety of the aircraft is still in question, so it makes sense for the FAA to use simulators for this test. In addition, using inexperienced pilots allows Boeing to test how newer 737 pilots will be able to respond to the issue. And, those unfamiliar with the aircraft could offer valuable insights that other pilots might overlook.

Boeing 737 MAX
Flight simulators will serve in lieu of testing on actual aircraft which remain grounded. Photo: Boeing

Simple Flying reached out to Boeing who did not have a comment or confirm the reports. The FAA also has not publicly confirmed these reports. It also is not clear where these pilots will be sourced from.

Boeing 737 MAX
Boeing’s software fix will be tested on 737 MAX simulators. Photo: Boeing

Why is this important?

Boeing and the FAA are under scrutiny after two entirely fatal 737 MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia. By covering all their bases, the FAA is looking to regain international recognition as an industry-leading regulatory agency. In fact, the FAA was the last major civil aviation regulatory agency in the world to ground the 737 MAX. China was the first.

Air China 737 MAX
Chinese carriers were the first to receive orders to ground the 737 MAX. Photo: Boeing

Airlines are also watching these developments closely. In the last few years, the 737 MAX grounding has received some of the most intense media sensation and public scrutiny. Another 737 MAX crash after recertification due to issues with the MCAS or autopilot would be a near deathblow for the FAA, Boeing, and airlines who fly the aircraft.

737 MAX
The Boeing 737 MAX has received some of the most intense media and public scrutiny out of any aircraft in recent years. Photo: Boeing

When will the aircraft fly again?

Boeing and airlines would love to see this aircraft recertified and in the air by the end of the year. In fact, this is still a possibility, depending on how FAA testing goes. However, as a precaution, many airlines have removed the 737 MAX from service until 2020. This does not necessarily indicate a lack of confidence in the aircraft. Instead, airlines can better prepare their operations in case the 737 MAX does not return to service until 2020.

Norwegian 737 MAX
Airlines, like Norwegian, would love to see the 737 MAX back in service sooner rather than later. Photo: Boeing

We will have to wait for word from the FAA before a more concrete timeline comes into place. And, after the FAA, other international regulatory agencies will have to lift the ban before the 737 MAX enters widespread international service.

Boeing 737 MAX
A global return to service would require many international agencies lifting their bans on the aircraft simultaneously. Photo: Boeing

Do you think the FAA is making the right decision by bringing in inexperienced 737 pilots? Will you fly on the 737 MAX once it is recertified? Let us know in the comments!