It’s finally happening. After months of uncertainty, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has approved re-certification flights for the Boeing 737 MAX.
The FAA wrote about the clearance in an email to Congress. It said that its Type Inspection Authorization (TIA) Board had reviewed the 737 MAX case, hence “clearing the way for flight certification testing to begin.” It even said that the test flights could begin today!
Reuters reported the FAA approval of test flights on Sunday. It has since cited more sources claiming that a three-day certification test campaign for the 737 MAX will begin on Monday. One of the people said that testing will be done on a 737-7 variant at Boeing Field near Seattle.
While this news comes as a silver lining for Boeing, it might come as a surprise for many aviation safety experts. The 737 MAX has encountered an array of problems in the past; ranging from software to other design flaws. Hence quite a few obstacles still remain to the 737 MAX’s reentry in the commercial aviation market.
Some of these obstacles are as follows:
Just this month, a whistleblower alleged a faulty FAA review of the 737 MAX besides “systematic problems” with the aircraft. Curtis Ewbank, a flight-deck engineer, stated:
The 737 Max’s original certification was accomplished with hand-waving and deception to hide the numerous ways the 1960s-era design of the 737 does not meet current regulatory standards or a modern concept of aviation safety.
He wrote this in a letter to a US Senate Committee in early June. Surprisingly, this is not the first time whistleblowers uncovered Boeing’s oversight in the 737 MAX programme.
In December 2019, one of the whistleblowers who worked on the aircraft alleged that his warnings of shutting down the production line due to “mistakes and cut corners” were ignored by Boeing.
Certification from Global Regulatory Bodies
When it comes to global regulatory bodies, Boeing’s 737 MAX will face tough scrutiny from them. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) is one such organization that will perform its own recertification of Boeing’s best-selling aircraft. Transport Canada has also reportedly identified “design flaws” with the aircraft — it’s test pilots raised concerns as early as 2016.
The FAA will conduct a series of additional tests before Boeing can roll out more orders.
This breakthrough has provided much-needed clarity in the entire MAX saga. Boeing will hope that it clears all the necessary testing soon so it can start delivering orders and avoid further cancellations.
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