The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday completed the required re-certification flight tests on the Boeing 737 MAX.
During three days of testing this week, FAA pilots and engineers evaluated Boeing’s proposed changes in connection with the automated flight control system on the aircraft.
While completion of the flights is an important milestone, a number of key tasks remain, including evaluating the data gathered during these flights.
The agency said that it is following a deliberate process and will take the time it needs to thoroughly review Boeing’s work. The grounding order will only be lifted after FAA safety experts are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards.
FAA’s remaining tasks include:
- JOEB Validation & FSB Review – The FAA’s Flight Standardization Board (FSB) and the Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB) which includes international partners from Canada, Europe, and Brazil will evaluate minimum pilot training requirements. The FSB will issue a draft report for public comment addressing the findings of the FSB and JOEB.
- Final FSB Report – The FAA will publish a final FSB report after reviewing and addressing public comments.
- Final Design Documentation and TAB Report – The FAA will review Boeing’s final design documentation in order to evaluate compliance with all FAA regulations. The multi-agency Technical Advisory Board (TAB) will also review the final Boeing submission and issue a final report prior to a final determination of compliance by the FAA.
- CANIC & AD – The FAA will issue a Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community (CANIC) providing notice of pending significant safety actions and will publish an Airworthiness Directive (AD) that addresses the known issues for grounding. The AD will advise operators of required corrective actions before aircraft may re-enter commercial service.
- FAA Rescinds Grounding Order – This marks the official ungrounding of the aircraft, pending completion by operators of the work specified in the AD, along with any required training.
- Certificates of Airworthiness – The FAA will retain its authority to issue airworthiness certificates and export certificates for all new 737 MAX airplanes manufactured since the grounding. The FAA will perform in-person, individual reviews of these aircraft.
- Operator Training Programs – The FAA will review and approve training programs for all part 121 operators.
It will probably be several months before the MAX returns to the skies.