Boeing 737 MAX Certification Flight Getting Nearer According To The FAA

The FAA has revealed that the Boeing 737 MAX is almost ready for its first test flights. Speaking at the Singapore Airshow, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said that his agency is ‘narrowing the issues’ around the beleaguered aircraft, and that a test flight is the next major milestone to cross. Despite his positive outlook, Dickson shied away from committing to any sort of timetable for the lifting of the ban.

southwest 737 MAX
The MAX is almost ready for its test flights, says FAA. Photo: Getty

Narrowing the issues

This week’s Singapore Airshow has ended up being something of a scaled-back affair, as exhibitors and visitors alike pulled out in the wake of the coronavirus outbreak. Nevertheless, the show has gone on, and many big names have been spotted in attendance.

The FAA Administrator Steve Dickson swept his coronavirus worries aside and showed some support for the show with a visit today. It was during this visit that Dickson spoke to reporters about the 737 MAX. Although he acknowledged there’s still a long way to go, his overall message was a positive one. As reported by Reuters, Dickson said,

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“We are following a very diligent process and it is important that we stay focused on the process and not on the timeline. Having said that we are approaching a milestone: the certification flight is the next major milestone and once that is completed I think we will have a good bit more clarity on where the process goes forward from there.”

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FAA Steve Dickson
The FAA’s Steve Dickson was in Singapore this week. Photo: Getty

He went on to explain that the certification flight of the Boeing 737 MAX, which will be undertaken by the FAA’s own pilots, has not been scheduled yet. Dickson said that the reason for this is,

“Because we still have a few issues to resolve, but we continue to narrow the issues. We are waiting for proposals from Boeing on a few items.”

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The FAA boss did note that all regulators are very closely aligned at a technical level, and that he fully expects the approval for the MAX to occur very close together in time. However, he did admit that there may be some different approaches in regard to exactly how the ban is lifted around the world.

Boeing pegs a mid-year return

While the FAA boss is somewhat shy of putting a timeframe on the 737 MAX return to service, Boeing’s senior executives were not so cautious. Speaking to Bloomberg reporters at the Singapore Airshow yesterday, Boeing’s commercial marketing vice president Randy Tinseth commented,

“We believe the airplane will return to service mid-year … We’re working with regulators around the world and have a little cushion in that, but that’s our schedule.”


Discussing the pilot training requirements for the MAX, Tinseth confirmed that Boeing plans to recommend that all pilots of the 737 MAX go through full simulator training as part of the process. When questioned about who would pay for this training, he noted that, in many cases, this additional training would be wrapped into the compensation packages that are being worked out with Boeing customers.

Tinseth also felt it would not be an issue to get the flying public back onto the aircraft. In the interview, he described Boeing’s strategy for this, saying,

“Win the hearts and minds of the pilots first, win the hearts and minds of the flight attendants and airlines, and then work very closely with your customers to bring the flying public back.”

What do you think? Let us know in the comments.

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Mark Thompson

Joanna Bailey looks like Renee Zellweger.

Frank

The FAA boss did note that all regulators are very closely aligned at a technical level, and that he fully expects the approval for the MAX to occur very close together in time.

It’ll be interesting to see what the definition of ‘very close together’ turns out to be. I’m betting that it isn’t really going to be an affair that happens quickly…

Joe

I don’t think that will happen — the FAA has lost every bit of credibility it had. The EASA and other CAAs will ignore anything the FAA says, run extensive tests of their own, and only let that thing fly when it has no problems whatsoever. EASA and co. will take their time.

Reed Hummell

Beleaguered? The MAX is a highly sophisticated aircraft not a rusted ‘71 AMC Gremlin with a missing radio. From reading this article and others before it, I get the feeling that you expect airlines to provide passengers with odds rather than flight numbers.

Frank

No – that’s Vegas’ job

David

I think it will take quite some time to grow public confidence in the MAX. I also have some concern at the condition of the 400 or so parked up waiting for completion or delivery. Apart from the logistical nightmare, required modifications, no machinery benefits from lying idle. It will take time too for contracted suppliers of components to re-establish delivery. It’s not a pretty picture, no way to make aeroplanes. Once flying them resumes they will need a flawless history to build up over time. One more major accident would finish them.

Joe

I agree. Even if the next accident is something like pilot error or a shootdown or anything outside Boeing’s control, the media will bring up MCAS and the JT and ET crashes and that will kill the MAX for good. Right now, the general public has connected “737 MAX” and “MCAS” with “plane crash” and
“death” in their subconsciousness. The last thing Boeing needs is for that fear to be affirmed.

Byh20

Boeing has stayed not long ago, a week perhaps that they expect them to take about a year and A half and that’s just the aircraft already set for delivery. I’m sure it’ll take awhile for suppliers a bit of time to rehire all the prior staff that was laid off to get things up and running. I still have full confidence that the aircraft will be the safest in the Sky with all that’s happened already and as I’m sure that the other countries regulators are working along side with the FAA due to the lack of trust now… Read more »

KEITH HITCHMAN

No matter what happens to the Max re-entering service, one thing is sure, with so much Worldwide bad publicity against it. People will not want to fly in it. Boeing’s standing as a trustworthy maker has dived to an all-time low. With January’s order book showing no orders for them it must show that even Airlines have lost faith in their products. Some Airlines are still going ahead to get the Max back in service straight away but if passengers decide not to fly in these poorly designed and more importantly badly manufactured aircraft, then Airlines will suffer as a… Read more »

Roger Wilson

I will not fly in a 737max for aleast 12 months. The 737 was never designed for these engines and having to use computers to correct a fundermental design fault does not sit well with me