Boeing 737 MAX Recertification Flight Edges Closer

Boeing’s recertification of the 737 MAX has edged closer, with the FAA Chief saying that it could be a matter of weeks until the aircraft is back in the air. Stephen Dickson is reported to have made the remarks yesterday, suggesting this key milestone is just around the corner.

Boeing 737 MAX
The Boeing 737 MAX is due to be re-certified in April. Photo: Getty Images

What are the details?

By the end of this month, the Boeing 737 MAX will have been grounded for over a year. The aircraft which was originally thought to not be at fault, then only to be grounded a few weeks has found its nightmare extended beyond all expert’s predictions. But now Boeing can see light at the end of the tunnel with recertification of their Boeing 737 MAX around the corner.

According to a recent interview with Reuters, FAA Chief Stephen Dickson said that the government agency will begin testing the changes to the Boeing 737 MAX in ‘a matter of weeks’ with only a few minor reviews to do before then.

“We’re working through the last few software review and documentation issues and then I think within a matter of a few weeks we should be seeing a certification flight,” Dickson said at a Washington aviation conference.

Boeing 737 MAX aircraft have been flying for Boeing and airlines, either as test flights during the development of the fixes, or ferry flights to move 737 MAX aircraft in and out of storage. They have not been carrying passengers and have always been flown by Boeing approved pilots.

However, these recertification flights will be the first time that Boeing proverbially hands over the keys to their aircraft to an independent authority to see if the aircraft are safe. From here, the experts at the FAA will assess the changes that Boeing has made and determine whether or not the aircraft is fit to be used by airlines in US airspace.

FAA Steve Dickson
The FAA’s Steve Dickson has said that the Boeing 737 MAX is almost ready. Photo: Getty

Is the FAA impartial?

One of the bigger controversies to come from the Boeing 737 MAX disaster is the revelation of how closely linked the FAA is to Boeing.

At one point in the original Boeing 737 MAX certification, it was revealed that Boeing was self-assessing several key components of the program with the FAA only coming in to look over its test results. After all, because of how linked Boeing is to the government (they provide so many jobs and thus influence policymakers to treat them nicely) the FAA is inevitably ‘encouraged’ to show Boeing in a good light where possible.

This criticism is one of the reasons why other aviation authorities, such as The European Authority for Aviation Safety (EASA) want to test the Boeing 737 MAX independently once the FAA has completed its own approval process. In the past, many of these aviation authorities simply took the FAA’s word as gold as it was believed that their certification was sufficient.

Boeing 737 MAX united
US airlines that have the Boeing 737 MAX are keen for its return. Photo: Getty Images

At the end of the day, all these extra tests mean that the Boeing 737 MAX will be the most ‘scrutinized’ aircraft ever built (PR firms have been quick to change away from the word ‘safest’). Whether or not this will mean passengers will fly in it remains to be seen.

FAA is expected to begin certification in April.

What do you think about this news? Will you fly on the Boeing 737 MAX? Let us know in the comments.