FAA Could Operate Boeing 737 MAX Certification Flights In October

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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is on target to start conducting certification flights for the Boeing 737 MAX starting in October.

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737 MAX certification flights to start in October. Photo: Boeing

Knowing what we know now, the 737 MAX should never have been certified to fly in the first place.

Now after months of extensive testing, Bloomberg reports that the 737 MAX will undergo certification flights by the FAA in the next few weeks. This is consistent with Boeing’s estimate of a return to service sometime in the fourth quarter.

Boeing is keeping its customers informed about the recertification

Boeing has been busy testing the changes that have been made to the software that caused the plane to dive unexpectedly.

Icelandair 737 MAX
Icelandair has taken its 737 MAX off the schedule until 2020, despite a possible early return. Photo: Icelandair

A problem with the aircraft’s MCAS system resulted in two fatal crashes that killed 346 people just five months apart.

During the grounding of the MAX, Boeing engineers have been answering questions and working their way through hundreds of queries brought up by the FAA and other regulatory bodies around the world.

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The Seattle planemaker is also keeping its 737 MAX customers up to date on all the latest developments and its plans for getting around 600 grounded planes back in the air.

“We continue to support the FAA and global regulators on the safe return of the MAX to service,” Boeing said in a statement.

The FAA, meanwhile, is working to ensure that the overhauled 737 MAX systems meet all safety standards. They do not have a timeline as to when the aircraft will be certified. According to a statement by the government aviation agency, FAA employees have logged in over 110 thousand hours on the MAX alone.

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“The FAA’s certification of the Boeing 737 Max is the subject of several independent reviews and investigations that will examine all aspects of the five-year effort,” the agency said. “While the agency’s certification processes are well established and have consistently produced safe aircraft designs, we welcome the scrutiny from these experts and look forward to their findings.”

Before Boeing can wrap up its submission to have the aircraft recertified there are still numerous tasks that need to be fulfilled. One of the final steps in the process is a certification flight with FAA test pilots that must be completed before Boeing is allowed to submit any paperwork.

The FAA will use test pilots who are not familiar with 737s

To ensure all safety aspects of the 737 MAX have been addressed, the FAA is looking to use test pilots who have had little or no experience flying the Boeing 737 family of aircraft.

Boeing 737 MAX
Test pilots to undergo abnormal conditions on 737 MAX simulators. Photo: Boeing

The first training will be done on simulators to see how the test pilots respond to abnormal conditions. No mention has been made as to where the FAA will get these pilots from, but the assumption is they will come from some of the airlines that have been working with the FAA.

If everything goes smoothly, as Boeing expect, the outcome will be combined with all the other test results to become a part of the recertification package.

Conclusion

The entire process of grounding the 737 MAX has been a lesson in what happens when companies cut corners to put profit over safety.

grounded 737 MAX aircraft
737 MAX aircraft are spread around the world. Photo: SounderBruce via Wikimedia Commons

Hopefully, this tragic incident will be a wakeup call to not only Boeing and the FAA, but to other industries around the world to check their products thoroughly to ensure they are safe.

If after recertification something else should go wrong with the 737 MAX or god forbid another accident, Boeing will have a hard time escaping the media’s attention while losing the trust of the flying public.

Simple Flying reached out to Boeing to see if they had any new information to share.

A spokesperson for Boeing got back to us with the following statement: “Our best current estimate is a return to service of the MAX that begins early in the fourth quarter.”

“Our focus is on safety and ensuring the trust and confidence of customers, regulators and the flying public. Timing on return to service will be driven by the FAA and global regulators.”

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