It would not be before year end that the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) would be approving the grounded commercial jet – Boeing Co’s 737 MAX, for flight, confirmed the US regulator on Wednesday while also saying that it was investigating production issues involving the 737 MAX planes.
A series of steps that the FAA still needs to get completed before 737 MAX approval were cited by FAA chief Steve Dickson at a hearing before US lawmakers.
Bowing has said earlier that it could be forced to cut or even halt production of the 737 MAX aircraft if there is a significant delay in the approval for flight for the planes. The company had also simultaneously warned that such a step would cause widespread impact throughout its global supply chain as well as be a cause of problems for dozens of airline customers.
The ability of the airlines that use the 737 Max planes or have placed orders for the planes are nearing their capacity to manage the shortage, warned the head of the International Air Transport Association, Alexandre de Juniac, on Wednesday.
At the earliest, FAA approval was not likely until January, reported news agency Reuters quoting officials from the regulator, and added that there is also a view among some US officials that an approval for the 737 Max planes would not come until at least February next year.
Once the FAA gives clearance for flight, they need 30 days or more to prepare their jets and crew, airlines have said.
The latest inquiry into the production process of the 737 MAX planes was spurred by the revelations of an ex-manager of Boeing that he had warned the seniors and the company that safety risks for the planes was rising because of schedule pressure and worker fatigue.
A link between what he called a “chaotic and alarming state” within the production facility of Boeing that resulted in undermining of quality and safety of the 737 MAX planes and the faulty Angle of Attack sensors in two recent crashes involving the model that killed 346 people was drawn by the ex-manager, Ed Pierson.
“It is alarming that these sensors failed on multiple flights mere months after the airplanes were manufactured in a factory experiencing frequent wiring problems and functional test issues,” Pierson said at the hearing. “I witnessed a factory in chaos,” he said.
Questions about an internal FAA analysis conducted by the regulator last year following the first of the two fatal crashes involving the 737 Max planes of Lion Air flight in Indonesia indicated serious risks of crashes over the life of the airplane were placed before Dickson by US lawmakers. The FAA chief was also asked by more aggressive action on the issue had not been taken by the regulator.
Five months after the crash in Indonesia, another 737 MAX plane of Ethiopian Airline happene din March this year.
“Despite its own calculations, the FAA rolled the dice on the safety of the traveling public and let the 737 MAX continue to fly until Boeing could overhaul its MCAS software,” said Representative Peter DeFazio, who chairs the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee.
(Adapted from Reuters.com)