FAA Administrator Set To Fly The Boeing 737 MAX Next Week

On September 30th, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson is expected to pilot a Boeing 737 MAX. The FAA Administrator previously stated he would personally fly the aircraft before the type is recertified, and is now getting ready to act on that statement. All in all, this shows that the MAX is making progress towards recertification, though it has not yet been recertified.

737 MAX
FAA Administrator Steve Dickson will pilot the MAX next week. Photo: Boeing

FAA Administrator plans to fly the MAX

The FAA advised in a notice to Capitol Hill today on the MAX that Administrator Steve Dickson is preparing to pilot a 737 MAX on September 30th.

In a Senate hearing in June, FAA chief Steve Dickson stated he would pilot the Boeing 737 MAX himself before he signs off on it and the FAA makes an ungrounding decision. Back in June, the administrator did not commit to a timeline for the recertification, nor did he indicate when he would be flying the aircraft himself.

FAA administrator Stephen Dickson
Administrator Dickson stated he would fly the aircraft himself back in June. Photo: Getty Images

The FAA released a draft Airworthiness Directive (AD) for the 737 MAX last month. With the comment period for that document closing only a few days ago, the FAA is now reviewing those comments and is working on a final AD. The FAA stressed that it would not recertify the aircraft until all known issues have been adequately addressed.

Administrator Dickson will be piloting the plane to get an understanding for himself what the aircraft is like, after years of experience as a pilot. Moreover, it will show to the world a sense of confidence that a well-known regulatory official, who came to the FAA after the 737 MAX debacle started, has faith in the work done in analyzing and scrutinizing the 737 MAX and can attest to the fixes.

Boeing, 737 MAX, EASA Recertification
The FAA is working closely with regulators from Canada, Brazil, and Europe to get the 737 MAX back in the skies. Photo: Getty Images

JOEB analysis of proposed pilot training

The FAA has been working with Transport Canada, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and the National Civil Aviation Agency of Brazil (ANAC) to assess Boeing’s proposed differences and return to service training for the 737 MAX. Together, these entities comprised the Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB).

The JOEB concluded the assessment of those training just this week, and the FAA plans on incorporating those findings into the FAA’s draft Flight Standardization Board (FSB). Once the draft FSB has been completed, it will be posted for public comment “in the near future,” according to the FAA.

Boeing 737 MAX grounded Getty Images
Pilots will most likely need to undergo some additional training. Photo: Getty Images

Before Steve Dickson gets onboard a MAX, he and Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell will be in Seattle to take the recommended training the JOEB evaluated. Only after that simulator training will Administrator Dickson fly on a Boeing 737 MAX.

Airlines are eagerly awaiting an outcome on training, which will be necessary for pilots before they step onboard a Boeing 737 MAX. American Airlines is hoping to start distance learning training and move into simulator training by November for its 737 pilots.

Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.

The EASA, on its part, is eyeing a November lifting of the 737 MAX flight ban. It was only a couple weeks ago that the EASA completed its own test flights of the 737 MAX in Vancouver.

737 MAX production
Once the MAX is recertified, Boeing will be able to resume deliveries of hundreds of parked aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

Who is Administrator Dickson?

Steve Dickson was sworn in as the FAA Administrator just over a year ago in August of 2019 for a five-year term. He came to the FAA after being the Senior Vice President of Flight Operations at Delta Air Lines. His role at Delta saw him oversee operational performance and safety, including pilot training, crew resources, crew scheduling, and regulatory compliance.

FAA nominee Stephen Dickson
Mr. Dickson came to the FAA after a distinguished career piloting aircraft and serving as an executive at Delta Air Lines. Photo: Getty Images

Mr. Dickson is also a pilot, having flown in line operations as an A320 captain and, over his career, he has also flown Boeing 727s, 737s, 757s, and 767s. Moreover, his flying background includes his time as a United States Air Force Officer and F-15 fighter pilot.

Are you glad to see Administrator Dickson gear up to fly the Boeing 737 MAX? Let us know in the comments!