Home US/World

FAA Chief Test Flies the 737 MAX and Calls for Fixes

By | Been Written

Contributing Writer | Telegraph Local

Boeing Co. got a tentative personal endorsement for fixes to its beleaguered 737 MAX from the head of the Federal Aviation Administration after he personally took one of the jets on a test flight according to MarketWatch.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said, “I felt very comfortable. I felt very prepared based on the training,” Dickson told reporters, referring to Boeing’s proposed ground-simulator training sessions for pilots that would get the Max back in the air. “We’re in the home stretch, but it doesn’t mean we’re going to take shortcuts.”

“I did two landings and also some air work maneuvers over about a two hour period… and I felt prepared. I think most importantly, I felt that the training prepared me to be very comfortable.”

What Happened to the Boeing 737 MAX?

The 737 MAX put into public use in August of 2017, with the very first aircraft delivered to Malaysian carrier Malindo Air. The MAX proved to be a very popular aircraft, racking up an astonishing 5000 orders, more than any other commercial aircraft in history.

On October 29, 2018, A Lion Air flight with 189 people on board crashed into the sea moments after taking off from Indonesia’s capital. The aircraft was a Boeing 737 MAX.

Flight tracking website Flightradar24 tweeted “preliminary data show an increase in speed and decrease in altitude at last transmission”, according to CBS News.

On March 10, 2019, 157 people died when Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crashed 6 minutes after taking off in Ethiopia. The jet slammed into the ground like a missile about 40 miles away, making impact at nearly 700 miles per hour, Business Insider reported.

That was the second Boeing 737 MAX to crash within 5 months.

A new system added to the upgraded 737 MAX , the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS), has been linked to both crashes. 

On March 13, 2019, the FAA temporarily grounded all Boeing 737 MAX 8 and MAX 9 aircraft. More than 10 months later, nearly 500 MAX jets remain grounded, and orders for thousands more are in limbo. Boeing faces fines, lawsuits, and accusations of rushing the aircraft into production.

It’s ironic that Indonesia’s Lion Air considered putting its pilots through simulator training before flying the 737 Max but abandoned the idea after Boeing convinced them in 2017 it was unnecessary.

Fortune writes that Boeing seemed to mock Lion Air about the training. Internal messages showed company officials saying things like, “Now friggin Lion Air might need a sim to fly the MAX, and maybe because of their own stupidity. I’m scrambling trying to figure out how to unscrew this now! idiots,”

Another company memo said,  “WHAT THE F%$&!!!! But their sister airline is already flying it!”, referring to Lion Air.

What Happens Now?

Dickson says his agency’s technical and test flight data reviews are still ongoing and the re-certification process cannot and will not be rushed according to NPR.

“We are not to the point yet where we have completed the process,” Dickson said. “We’re in the home stretch but that doesn’t mean that we’re going to take shortcuts to get it done by a certain date.”

“The FAA and I in particular will not approve the plane for a return to passenger service until I’m satisfied that we’ve adequately addressed all of the known safety issues that played a role in the tragic loss of 346 lives aboard Lion Air flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines flight 302.”

Leave a Reply