Saturday, 31 August 2019

More time needed says the FAA board reviewing 737 Max certification



The US Federal Aviation Administration confirmed on Friday that a panel of safety experts will need a few more weeks to finish its review into the Boeing 737 Max certification.


The global team is reviewing the approval of Boeing's latest generation of the 737 twin jet that has been grounded since the two fatal crashes of Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air aircraft.  The panel is, apparently,  taking additional time to finish documenting its work and now is understood to be able to put its recommendations in the public domain in the coming weeks.

Boeing still remains positive it will receive US regulatory approval for an updated flight control software at the heart of the tragic crashes, by the end of October. However,  it may take at least two months more for airlines to retrain pilots using the new software as well as getting stored jets back ready for normal flight operations. 


Christopher Hart is the chairman of the Joint Authorities Technical Review and is a former National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and said the main focus on the certification of the aircraft “is separate from the ongoing efforts to safely return the aircraft to flight.”

The NTSB has said it was 'examining the U.S. design certification process to ensure any deficiencies are captured and addressed' after the two crashes. Aircraft maker, Boeing was largely left to its own devices in the certification process and self-certified the software and ultimately the jets airworthiness.

In the US the FAA had allowed aircraft manufacturers to perform its own safety certification of some aircraft and aircraft systems, which has angered and concerned aviation safety advisors and personnel around the world. Indeed, in March, Dan Elwell, the FAA's Deputy Administrator told US lawmakers, the FAA would have to spend $1.8 billion and hire 10,000 new employees to handle all aircraft certification internally.

Michael Perrone, of the Professional Aviation Safety Specialists Union, advised that external entities designated by the FAA were “now performing more than 90% of FAA’s certification activities despite serious concerns that oversight is lacking." which "creates a concerning dynamic whereby designees who are paid by the aircraft manufacturers, airlines, or repair stations are simultaneously overseeing for the FAA.”

It is interesting to note that the seriousness of the fatal crashes of the two 737 Max aircraft initially escaped the FAA and it was the last major aviation safety board in the world to ground the type. 


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