FAA to host briefing of civil aviation officials on Boeing 737 MAX

written by australianaviation.com.au | April 26, 2019
A file image of the Boeing 737 MAX tail and winglets. (Boeing)
A file image of the Boeing 737 MAX tail and winglets. (Boeing)

The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has invited leading civil aviation officials from around the world to a meeting on May 23 to discuss the grounding of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft after two fatal crashes, media reports say.

The meeting was “intended to provide participants the FAA’s safety analysis that will inform its decision to return the 737 MAX fleet to service in the US when it is made”, the Reuters news agency reported on Thursday (US time).

Meanwhile, the FAA told Agence France-Presse the session would “discuss the agency’s activities toward ensuring the safe return of Boeing 737 MAX to service”.

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The FAA said the meeting would be for regulators only, with no participation from industry.

This May 23 gathering in Washington DC was in addition to international authorities and experts from aviation regulatory bodies in nine countries – Australia’s Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) included – starting a 90-day review of aircraft safety on April 29 following the crashes of two 737 MAX aircraft operated by Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines in October 2018 and March 2019 respectively, killing 346 passengers and crew.

Officials from China, the European Aviation Safety Agency, Canada, Brazil, Australia, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates will take part in that 90-day review chaired by former National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Chris Hart. They will focus on the certification of the 737 MAX’s automated flight control system.

Given that 90-day timeframe, the grounding of the aircraft globally is unlikely to be lifted until late July. However, the FAA has previously said a decision on whether to lift that grounding was separate to the review.

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A file image of a Boeing 737 MAX flight deck. (Boeing)
A file image of a Boeing 737 MAX flight deck. (Boeing)

Boeing has been working on a software update to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) following the crash of a Lion Air 737 MAX 8 in October 2018. It has still to submit that software to the FAA for approval.

The airframer said recently it had completed the final test flight with the updated software. There is still a certification flightwith the FAA to come.

Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg on a 737 MAX 7 test flight for the MCAS software update. (Boeing)
Boeing chief executive Dennis Muilenburg on a 737 MAX 7 test flight for the MCAS software update. (Boeing)
A supplied picture of a Boeing 737 MAX 7 landing on April 17, 2019 after a technical demonstration flight for the MCAS software update. (Boeing)
A supplied picture of a Boeing 737 MAX 7 landing on April 17, 2019 after a technical demonstration flight for the MCAS software update. (Boeing)

Norwegian delay

Meanwhile, low-cost carrier, Norwegian Air Shuttle ASA has arranged with Boeing to delay the purchase of 14 737 MAX aircraft due for delivery in 2020 and 2021.

It presently has 18 737 MAX aircraft lying idle because of the grounding. Norwegian chief executive Bjorn Kjos told media this week the impact of the grounding could cost the airline US$60 million (A$85.5 million).

A 2017 file image of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 in Norwegian livery. (Boeing)
A 2017 file image of a Boeing 737 MAX 8 in Norwegian livery. (Boeing)

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