The Boeing 737 Max, grounded globally since since March last year following twin crashes that killed 346 people, may be back flying before the end of the year.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Chief Steve Dickson, formerly a commercial airline pilot, will conduct an evaluation flight of the grounded aircraft this week, the agency told lawmakers on Sept. 25. Dickson’s decision to fly the aircraft follows his comments that he would not approve the resumption of flights by the 737 Max until he flew it himself and was satisfied that he could put his own family on it “without a second thought.”
The same day, Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), said the jet could receive regulatory approval to resume flying in November and enter service by the end of the year.
“For the first time in a year and a half, I can say there’s an end in sight to work on the MAX,” said Ky. It may be recalled that EASA has differences with FAA and Boeing regarding the scope of an international review into systems of the aircraft.
The FAA and regulators from Canada, European Union Aviation Safety Agency Brazil had recently concluded the Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB) assessing Boeing’s proposed 737 MAX training. Before the jet flies, FAA has to finalize a directive outlining software upgrades and other changes that all 737 MAX planes must undergo before resuming flights. Boeing will install the computerized third-sensor system on the next version of the plane, the 230-seat 737 MAX 10, followed by retrofits on the rest of the fleet later.
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