The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has made a huge first step towards recertifying the 737 MAX. While the aircraft is still facing a worldwide grounding, this is welcome news as American carriers operate and have on order a significant number of 737 MAX aircraft.
The FAA updates the 737 MAX MMEL
On December 6th, the FAA announced on Twitter that they had revised the Boeing 737 MAX Master Minimum Equipment List on December 6th.
— The FAA (@FAANews) December 6, 2019
The FAA is alone so far in making any such announcements. No other major international civil aviation regulatory agencies have released information in regards to updated operating procedures for the 737 MAX alongside the FAA’s announcement.
What is the Master Minimum Equipment List?
The Master Minimum Equipment List, or MMEL, offers pilots, instructors, technicians, and anyone else who interacts with the aircraft a set of tables, lists, and requirements and procedures regarding the 737 MAX. More importantly, the list outlines what must be functional and when for the aircraft to fly safely.
The list has been posted for public comment. This allows for people to review what the FAA believes are important changes to the document prior to recertification of the type. Due to commonality with the 737 Next Generation (NG), of which some are currently dealing with pickle fork cracks, the FAA has made some adjustments to the 737 NG’s MMEL as well. However, 737 NGs are still allowed to fly.
The 737 MAX is not yet ready for recertification
While this move indicates that the FAA has looked at various features and equipment on the 737 MAX in-depth, this announcement made it clear that there is no set timeline for recertification. The agency is still conducting a review of the 737 MAX design and pilot changes.
When will the 737 MAX return to service?
The grounding of the 737 MAX has been extended by several carriers to close to one year since the type faced worldwide grounding. Mostly, this is due to uncertainty surrounding the review and recertification of the type from regulatory agencies.
While airlines would love to see the 737 MAX back in the skies soon, regulatory agencies are warier. Another entirely fatal crash would absolutely cripple Boeing, airlines, and worldwide regulatory agencies. So, it is up to the agencies to ensure the aircraft’s airworthiness. And, for that, it appears that no one is leaving any stone unturned.
This is certainly movement towards a return to service of the 737 MAX. After a while, this is some good news for Boeing’s beleaguered narrowbody. However, it is unclear exactly how long it will take the regulator to return the aircraft to service and issue every Boeing 737 MAX an airworthiness certificate.
What do you make of this new development? Let us know in the comments!