By Scott Hamilton
Sept. 30, 2020, © Leeham News: Boeing is one step closer to recertifying the 737 MAX.
Steve Dickson, the administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration, fulfilled a pledge this morning to pilot the MAX as one of the final steps in the recertification process.
The MAX was grounded in March 2019 following the second fatal accident of the airplane in five months.
Dickson said he would not recertify the airplane until he piloted it and was satisfied Boeing redesigned the now-infamous MCAS software that triggered events leading to the two crashes.
Dickson flew a simulator before the test airplane. He said he experienced a variety of problems in the simulator that might occur. Some of these were repeated in today’s test flight.
“It was important to me to experience first-hand the training and the handling of the aircraft to understand process going forward,” he said.
This flight is different than the certification flight, Dickson said.
Dickson ducked a direct question from LNA asking whether he experienced an MCAS trigger in the simulator or flight testing and if he was satisfied with the recovery—and whether there was anything he found troubling or unsatisfactory.
“I liked what I saw,” Dickson said. “That doesn’t mean I don’t have some debrief items for Boeing and the teams. I have some observations I want to share with them and it will be incorporated into the process going forward.”
“We will not certify the airplane until I’m satisfied” all the problems have been solved. There were 10 incidents involved in the test flight and simulator Dickson experienced.
Dickson was asked if the MAX safe and would Dickson put his family on it?
“We still have some work to do yet,” Dickson said. “My flight today and simulator training gives me an excellent basis. It has been a productive, constructive week. I like what I saw this week,” but the FAA is not done yet on the path to recertification.
“We’re in the home stretch, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to take shortcuts,” he said. The FAA is reviewing more than 200 comments submitted in the Notice for Proposed Rule Making process. The comment period ended Sept. 21.
Dickson said the FAA, Europe’s EASA, Transport Canada and Brazil’s regulator strived for consensus and there is very little daylight between them. Believes there will be consensus when the process is complete.
EASA said previously it expects to certify the MAX next month. Dickson did not indicate a timeline. The FAA would be first to certificate the airplane.