737 Max Safety Certification Should ‘Take Whatever Time Needed’, Says US FAA Chief

An official memo and a video message from the head of the United States Federal Aviation Administration to his team sent on November 14 said that the safety certification team should “take whatever time is needed” for reviewing the flight safety status of Boeing Co’s 737 MAX, claimed a report published by Reuters on the basis of the reviewing of the memo and the video message.

This revelation probably came as a shock for Boeing which just days ago said that the company anticipated that the 737 Max planes would be certified and issued an airworthiness directive by the FAA soon and that would allow the company to unground the planes by the middle of December. That announcement by the company saw an immediate impact on the share market even though the company made it clear that it would not be until January that it would get the approval for the changes it has made on the pilot training manual.

The timetable for ungrounding of its 737 Max planes was aggressive and even unrealistic and the announcement had not been made with advance clearance from the regulators, said reports quoting a number of US officials speaking to the media privately.

A decision to when allow the 737 Ma planes to fly again will be exclusively taken by it, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson had clearly indicated last Friday. The 737 Max planes had been involved in two fatal crashes within a period of just 5 months in which a total of 346 people were killed.

“This effort is not guided by a calendar or schedule,” Dickson wrote in the memo sent to Ali Bahrami, a top FAA safety official. His unflinching backing for a “data-driven methodical analysis, review and validation of the modified flight control systems and pilot training required to safely return the MAX to commercial service” was offered by Dickson.

It is also incumbent upon Boeing to complete an audit of its software documentation prior to it being able to schedule a key certification test flight. There are also other hurdles in its path to unground its 737 Max planes.

“I am not going to sign off on this aircraft until I fly it myself and I am satisfied that I would put my own family on it without a second thought. I know there is a lot of pressure to return this aircraft to service quickly. But I want you to know, that I want you to take the time you need and focus solely on safety. I’ve got your back,” Dickson said. “The FAA fully controls the approval process,” Dickson said in a video message posted on YouTube on Friday.

It was working closely with the FAA and other regulatory authorities, Boeing said on Friday.

“With the rigorous scrutiny being applied, we are confident the MAX will be one of the safest airplanes ever to fly,” the company said and noted that the “FAA and other regulatory authorities will determine the timing of certification and return to commercial service.”

(Adapted from Nasdaq.com)

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