Administrator Steve Dickson fulfilled his promise on Wednesday to pilot the Boeing 737 MAX before the Federal Aviation Administration approves the aircraft’s return to service.
Dickson’s flight took two hours and included a number of scenarios to demonstrate the proposed software and design changes to the aircraft’s automated flight control system. Dickson, along with FAA Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell, completed the new recommended pilot training for the aircraft on Tuesday.
While Dickson’s flight is an important milestone, a number of key steps remain in the FAA’s evaluation of Boeing’s proposed changes to the aircraft’s flight control system and training.
The FAA will not speculate about how long it will be until the aircraft is returned to passenger service. As we have stated throughout our work on the 737 MAX, the agency is following a deliberate process and will take the time it needs to thoroughly review Boeing’s work. We will lift the grounding order only after FAA safety experts are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards.
The remaining tasks include:
Flight Standardization Board (FSB) Report – A Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB) recently met for nine days to review Boeing’s proposed training for 737 MAX flight crews. The JOEB was comprised of civil aviation authorities from the United States, Canada, Brazil, and the European Union. The results of this evaluation will be incorporated into the draft FAA Flight Standardization Board (FSB) report, which will be posted for public comment in the near future. The FAA will publish a final FSB report after reviewing and addressing public comments on the draft FSB Report.
Final Design Documentation and Technical Advisory Board (TAB) Report – The FAA will review Boeing’s final design documentation to evaluate compliance with all FAA regulations. The multi-agency TAB will also review the final Boeing submission and issue a final report prior to a final determination of compliance by the FAA.
Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community (CANIC) & AD – The FAA will issue a CANIC providing notice of pending significant safety actions and will publish a final 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.
These actions are applicable only to U.S. air carriers and U.S.-registered aircraft. While our processes will inform other civil aviation authorities, they must take their own actions to return the Boeing 737 MAX to service for their air carriers. The FAA will ensure that our international counterparts have all necessary information to make a timely, safety-focused decision.