Breaking News: FAA recertifies 737 MAX–continuing coverage

  • Coverage continues in the next post.

Nov. 18, 2020, (c) Leeham News: The US Federal Aviation Administration today recertified the Boeing 737 MAX, ending a 20-month grounding.

Underlying photo: Source, Boeing.

Recertification of the airplane will follow by Transport Canada and Europe’s EASA, probably this month.

U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

FEDERAL AVIATION ADMINISTRATION

N 8900.570
  National Policy Effective Date: 11/18/20
    Cancellation Date: 11/18/21
  SUBJ: Boeing 737-8 and 737-9 Airplanes: Return to Service

1.    Purpose of This Notice. This notice provides policy, information, and direction to certain Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) employees regarding the maintenance actions required for operators to complete prior to returning the Boeing Company Model 737-8 and 737-9 (referred to collectively as the 737 MAX) airplanes to service. The FAA has identified the required return-to-service activities for operators of the 737 MAX and heightened surveillance and tracking of those related activities for aviation safety inspectors (ASI).

2.    Audience. The primary audience for this notice is principal inspectors (PI), ASIs, and other Flight Standards (FS) personnel who are responsible for the oversight of certificate holders operating or maintaining 737 MAX airplanes under Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) parts 91, 121, 125, and 129. The secondary audience includes the FS Safety Standards and Foundational Business offices.

3.    Where You Can Find This Notice. You can find this notice on the MyFAA employee website at https://employees.faa.gov/tools_resources/orders_notices. Inspectors can access this notice through the Flight Standards Information Management System (FSIMS) at https://fsims.avs.faa.gov. Operators can find this notice on the FAA’s website at https://fsims.faa.gov. This notice is available to the public at https://www.faa.gov/regulations_policies/orders_notices.

4.    Applicability. This notice applies only to 737 MAX airplanes that received FAA Airworthiness Certificates and export Certificates of Airworthiness prior to the date of issuance of the Rescission of Emergency Order of Prohibition (November 18, 2020).

5.    Background.

a.    Accidents.

(1)    On October 29, 2018, a Boeing 737-8 airplane operated by Lion Air (Lion Air Flight 610) was involved in an accident after takeoff from Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Jakarta, Indonesia, resulting in 189 fatalities. Investigation of the accident has been completed by the Indonesian authorities (Komite Nasional Keselamatan Transportasi (KNKT)) with assistance from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and the FAA of the United States, the manufacturer, and the operator. Reports from the accident investigation indicate that the airplane’s flight control system generated repeated airplane nose-down horizontal stabilizer trim commands, contributing to the accident.1
(2)    On March 10, 2019, a Boeing 737-8 airplane operated by Ethiopian Airlines (Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302) was involved in an accident after takeoff from Addis Ababa Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, resulting in 157 fatalities. The accident is under investigation by the Ethiopian Accident Investigation Bureau (EAIB) with assistance from the NTSB and the FAA of the United States, the French Bureau of Enquiry and Analysis for Civil Aviation Safety (BEA), the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the manufacturer, the operator, and the Ethiopian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA).2
(3)    The data from the flight data recorders, as summarized in reports of the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident, indicated that if a single erroneously high angle of attack (AOA) sensor input is received by the flight control system, the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) can command repeated airplane nose-down trim of the horizontal stabilizer. This unsafe condition, if not addressed, could cause the flightcrew to have difficulty controlling the airplane and lead to excessive airplane nose‑down attitude, significant altitude loss, and impact with terrain.

6.    Airworthiness Directives (AD).

a.    AD 2020-24-02. AD 2020-24-02 requires installing new flight control computer (FCC) software, revising the existing Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) to incorporate new and revised flightcrew procedures, installing new MAX display system (MDS) software, changing the horizontal stabilizer trim wire routing installations, completing an AOA sensor system test, and performing an operational readiness flight. This AD also allows operation (dispatch) of an airplane with certain inoperative systems only if certain, more restrictive provisions are incorporated in the operator’s existing FAA-approved minimum equipment list (MEL).

b.    Other Applicable ADs. In addition, during the time since the FAA issued the Emergency Order of Prohibition that grounded the Boeing 737 MAX airplanes, the FAA has issued a number of other ADs affecting the fleet of which responsible ASIs should be aware. All ADs affecting 737 MAX airplanes can be found at https://rgl.faa.gov/.

7.    Action. Responsible ASIs will complete the actions as described in the applicable appendix to this notice.

  • Part 91 ASIs (domestic and foreign-based), see Appendix A.
  • Part 121 ASIs, see Appendix B.
  • Part 125 ASIs, see Appendix C.
  • Part 129 ASIs, see Appendix D.

8.    Disposition. The information in this notice will not be incorporated into FAA Order 8900.1. Direct questions or comments concerning the information in this notice to the Aircraft Maintenance Division at 202‑267-1675.

ORIGINAL SIGNED by

/s/ Robert C. Carty

Deputy Executive Director, Flight Standards Service

Appendix A. Part 91

1.    Responsible Principal Inspectors (PI), Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASI), and Other Flight Standards (FS) Personnel. Evaluate the operator’s return-to-service process and procedures related to 737 MAX airplanes described in paragraph 4 of this notice. Use the appropriate Activity Recording (AR) codes to document the evaluation of the certificate holder’s process and procedures for return to service of the 737 MAX airplane. When completing the AR, select “737MAX” in the “National Use” field in the Safety Assurance System (SAS).

2.    Minimum Equipment List (MEL). PIs, ASIs, and other FS personnel must follow the policy and direction in FAA Order 8900.1, Volume 4, Chapter 4, Section 2, MEL Requirements for 14 CFR Parts 91, 137, and 142 Operations, for review and concurrence of the operator’s revised MEL. When documenting the completion of the MEL review, select “737MAX” in the “National Use” field in the AR entry.

3.    Aircraft Maintenance Manuals (AMM). PIs, ASIs, and other FS personnel must ensure that, when implementing the requirements of Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2020-24-02, operators use the revision of the AMM identified in any Service Bulletins (SB) required for compliance by the AD.

Appendix B. Part 121

1.    Responsible Principal Inspectors (PI), Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASI), and Other Flight Standards (FS) Personnel. Evaluate the certificate holder’s return-to-service process and procedures related to 737 MAX airplanes described in paragraph 4 of this notice. Use the Pre‑Operational Readiness Flight National/Divisional Custom Data Collection Tool (ND C DCT) and the Action Item Tracking Tool (AITT) to document the evaluation of the certificate holder’s process and procedures for return to service of the 737 MAX airplane.

2.    DCTs Related to 737 MAX Return to Service. PIs, ASIs, and other FS personnel must enter “737MAX” (without quotations or spaces) in the “National Use” field when completing the DCTs.

3.    Minimum Equipment List (MEL). PIs, ASIs, and other FS personnel must follow the policy and direction in FAA Order 8900.1, Volume 4, Chapter 4, Section 3, MEL Requirements for 14 CFR Parts 91 Subpart K (Part 91K), 121, 125, 125 LODA, 129, and 135 Operations, for review and concurrence of the operator’s revised MEL. When documenting the completion of the MEL review, enter “737MAX” (without quotations or spaces) in the “National Use” field of the DCT.

4.    Aircraft Maintenance Manuals (AMM). PIs, ASIs, and other FS personnel must ensure that, when implementing the requirements of Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2020-24-02, operators use the revision of the AMM identified in any Service Bulletins (SB) required for compliance by the AD.

5.    Pre-Operational Readiness Flight (ORF) Audit C DCT. PIs, ASIs, and other FS personnel should assign and verify completion of the Pre-ORF Audit C DCT prior to the certificate holder’s first ORF. The FAA uses this C DCT in the evaluation of each certificate holder’s return-to-service process and procedures. The C DCT should include at least the following topics:

a.    De-preservation (AMM tasks, Chapter 10).

b.    Software installations.

c.    Angle of attack (AOA) system test preferred method (AMM, Task 34-21-05-730-801, 2F and 2H).

d.    Master Minimum Equipment List (MMEL) revision (MMEL revision 2) incorporation into the air carrier’s MEL.

e.    AD 2020-24-02 compliance.

f.    Any required scheduled and non-routine maintenance tasks completed not otherwise captured by this DCT.

g.    Airworthiness release completed (refer to 14 CFR part 121, § 121.709).

Appendix C. Part 125

1.    Responsible Principal Inspectors (PI), Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASI), and Other Flight Standards (FS) Personnel. Evaluate the operator’s return-to-service process and procedures related to 737 MAX airplanes described in paragraph 4 of this notice. Use the appropriate Activity Recording (AR) codes to document the evaluation of the certificate holder’s process and procedures for return to service of the 737 MAX airplane. When completing the AR, select “737MAX” in the “National Use” field in the Safety Assurance System (SAS).

2.    Minimum Equipment List (MEL). PIs, ASIs, and other FS personnel must follow the policy and direction in FAA Order 8900.1, Volume 4, Chapter 4, Section 3, MEL Requirements for 14 CFR Parts 91 Subpart K (Part 91K), 121, 125, 125 LODA, 129, and 135 Operations, for review and concurrence of the operator’s revised MEL. When documenting the completion of the MEL review, select “737MAX” in the “National Use” field in the AR entry.

3.    Aircraft Maintenance Manuals (AMM). PIs, ASIs, and other FS personnel must ensure that, when implementing the requirements of Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2020-24-02, operators use the revision of the AMM identified in any Service Bulletins (SB) required for compliance by the AD.

Appendix D. Part 129

1.    Responsible Principal Inspectors (PI), Aviation Safety Inspectors (ASI), and Other Flight Standards (FS) Personnel. This appendix identifies oversight actions to be completed by Airworthiness ASIs (including PIs) and other FS personnel who oversee 14 CFR part 129 foreign air carriers operating any 737 MAX airplanes within the U.S. National Airspace System (NAS), and/or operating U.S.-registered 737 MAX airplanes solely outside of the United States. PIs will evaluate the foreign air carrier’s return-to-service process and procedures related to 737 MAX airplanes described in paragraph 4 of this notice.

2.    Minimum Equipment List (MEL). PIs, ASIs, and other FS personnel must follow the policy and direction in FAA Order 8900.1, Volume 12, Chapter 4, Section 9, Configuration Deviation List, Minimum Equipment List, and Nonessential Equipment and Furnishings, for review and approval of the operator’s revised MEL. PIs, ASIs, and other FS personnel must enter into Activity Recording (AR) the part 129 designator in the “Operator Designator” field and select “737MAX” in the “National Use” field.

3.    Aircraft Maintenance Manuals (AMM). PIs, ASIs, and other FS personnel must ensure that, when implementing the requirements of Airworthiness Directive (AD) 2020-24-02, operators of U.S.-registered airplanes use the revision of the AMM identified in any Service Bulletins (SB) required for compliance by the AD.

4.    Airworthiness Requirements. Consistent with part 129, § 129.5 and International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) Annex 8, Airworthiness of Aircraft, foreign air carriers may not operate any 737 MAX airplanes within the U.S. NAS, unless the airplane is in an airworthy condition and (for U.S.-registered airplanes operated by a foreign air carrier) compliant with AD 2020-24-02.

5.    Heightened Surveillance AR. PIs, ASIs, and other FS personnel will document the following actions:

a.    U.S.-Registered Airplanes. For the AD and applicable return-to-service task(s), accomplish 3649 and/or 5649 AR, and any other activity necessary to confirm related return-to-service tasks for U.S.-registered 737 MAX airplanes.

(1)    PIs will ensure the appropriate method of compliance is recorded for AD 2020-24-02 for each U.S.‑registered 737 MAX airplane identified in paragraph 1 of this appendix.
(2)    Enter the part 129 designator in the “Operator Designator” field and the aircraft registration number, and select “737MAX” in the “National Use” field.

b.    Foreign-Registered Airplanes. Accomplish a review of AD 2020-24-02 or requirements approved by the appropriate State of Registry that achieve an equivalent level of safety (ELOS) and document this in an AR.

(1)    Accomplish 3634 and/or 5634 AR to confirm recording of AD compliance for foreign-registered 737 MAX airplanes identified in paragraph 1 of this appendix.
(2)    Enter the part 129 designator in the “Operator Designator” field and the aircraft registration number, and select “737MAX” in the “National Use” field.

1 Refer to Preliminary KNKT.18.10.35.04, Aircraft Accident Investigation Report, dated November 2018, and Final KNKT.18.10.35.04, Aircraft Accident Investigation Report, dated October 2019, which can be found at https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FAA-2020-0686-0002.

2 Refer to Ethiopian Aircraft Accident Investigation Preliminary Report AI-01/19, dated March 2019, and the Ethiopian Interim Investigation Report of accident MAX-8-ET-AVJ, ET-302, dated March 2020, available at https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=FAA-2020-0686-0002.

 

19 Comments on “Breaking News: FAA recertifies 737 MAX–continuing coverage

  1. After what Boeing went trough and the dead people, I hope that this is not breaking news…;)

    Poor choice of words 🙂

  2. Will an outside inspector oversee the thorough de-FOD-ing of all presently manufactured MAXs? Or will that task be blindly entrusted to Boeing?

    • Each aircraft is to be inspected and certified by the FAA and Boeing no longer allowed to self certify.

      How long that lasts?

  3. What will be changed on Boeing/Congress pushing through delegation, marginalizing FAA by holding off FAA re-authorizations?

    Boeing and Congress have been pushing FAA “Streamlining”, delegation since the “FAA Modernization and Reform Act of 2012” fully overlapping with 737MAX, 777X certifications. And they were successful! :

    2017: https://www.gao.gov/assets/690/683650.pdf

    So embarrassing, damaging, we all want it to go away / forget. But it should be acknowledged and avoided in the aircraft certification future. Commercial interests, stock value, shouldn’t beat flight safety.

    • I really think an important nuance that needs to be addressed is while there are probably some in leadership strongly pushing for “streamlining” a bigger undercurrent is a lack of accountability for Congress not allocating the right resources to allow the FAA to maintain a position for oversight that is not vulnerable to these initiatives. I think what we see is when funding is not increased to the oversight agency, the company is able to slip in and say “hey I can help you out” and presto, less oversight. If we really think a safe aviation sector is super important, Congress needs to put their money where there mouth is and make sure FAA has the funding to maintain/increase oversight and attract the right talent to do so.

      Also, obligatory that in future any Boeing Manager should have seared into their collective memory the images of the crashes and always ask themselves “am I making a decision with cost or quality/safety in mind first?”.

      • The consensus in the industry (including FAA) is that ODA works, is necessary, and beneficial. The question is finding the correct balance of responsibility, authority, and cooperation between FAA and the businesses they regulate.

        The MAX is held out as an example of failure of ODA because both Boeing and the FAA missed the flaws in MCAS during certification. But the IG report on what happened, did not show that ODA was a factor in the oversight. Nor did the DoT review board investigation.

        In fact it was found that the late stage MCAS changes were known within Boeing and the FAA. FAA test pilots certified both versions of MCAS. So there was not an issue of things not being shared or reported. Rather it was an issue of the changes being regarded as routine, by both Boeing and FAA personnel, when in fact they had introduced significant vulnerabilities.

        That points to safety culture being a major factor, both within Boeing and the FAA. You need a culture that asks questions and runs them to ground, out of caution and the desire to be sure, and not assume the outcome based on past experience.

        Both FAA and Boeing have acknowledged this, and Dickson is trying to bring in Safety Management Systems of the kind he used at Delta. This is a positive thing, and it correctly targets the problem.

        If we get focused on ODA as the root cause, that makes headlines, serves various political interests, and gives critics of ODA satisfaction (I told you so), but it overlooks the true problem, and in the end won’t have the same impact.

        That said, it’s always possible to improve ODA, and I welcome the legislation as a balanced change for the better. But it doesn’t address the core issue and so can’t stop there. We need monitorable and measurable SMS instituted at all stages of manufacture and regulation. I hope the FAA continues down that path under the new administration.

        • Rob:

          We can read that as the consensus of the Fox that Guards the Hen House agrees Foxes are just fine for that job.

          The Hens vehemently disagree (if there are any left alive)

          You do not speak for anyone other than yourself by the way.

          And your statements are totally inaccurate. The process was rushed, MCAS was covered up and the FAA did not have the facts (and if they did managers over rule technical people all the time)

          To say industry is disingenuous at best. Kind of like everyone. Really ?

          We can change that to you do not and leave it at that

          • “You do not speak for anyone other than yourself by the way.
            And your statements are totally inaccurate. ”

            That’s a constant factor, manifested every day here. Same when it comes to patent law. Or to how vaccines work.

          • And yet the view I expressed remains the consensus of the industry, and those who are charged with responsibilities for those agencies and functions. As well as the professional groups engaged with those agencies. None of those groups hold the radical views expressed here.

            The dissenting views come from the politicians and pundits (no offense to our own Pundit). Many of which are based on popular theories involving foxes and hens. They sound good and blow the public dog whistle. But what would they really mean?

            The expression of all these views always comes back to the same thing. If anyone who believes those theories has proof of them, please bring it forward. The issue is easily resolved, all debate ended, if there is conclusive proof.

            Without proof, these beliefs remain opinion, something to keep in mind but not necessarily act upon. Most would agree that it isn’t necessary to destroy a thing, to improve it. As Tolkien said, he who does that has left the path of wisdom.

            This thinking is reflected in the current legislation, which modifies and improves ODA but does not attempt to eliminate it. That will be the focus going forward, and for some time to come. The benefits of ODA are too apparent to be dismissed. If those benefits are merged with the benefits of SMS, together they have the potential to increase the already high levels of safety.

          • @TW & Bryce

            You should be grateful to have the voice of Corporate Compliance expressed so un erringly

            This gives you the standard baseline of corporate thinking and the demands that corporate make on you, the people

            Your opinions, while you are still able and allowed to express them, sometimes and in some places such as here, are not to be taken into consideration

            The marriage between corporate and administration has long been consummated, their misformed children inhabit the planet – accidents waiting to happen

          • Gerrard, we live in a democracy. People are free to express their opinions, but there needs to be majority consensus for them to be enacted into law.

            If these opinions were the majority, they would become the law. But the truth is they are not. Saying that does not diminish their value, it’s just a reflection of reality.

            If one understands this, then one invests the effort to understand why they are not the majority view. There are always reasons, sometimes they are good and sometimes not. Sometimes you’ll agree and sometimes not. But you are always better off with the understanding.

            If you dismiss that understanding, you isolate yourself from the process, sniping from the sidelines instead. That is what I see so often here. If you want your views to become the majority, that strategy will never work.

          • @Bryce, TW, and Rob

            On the contrary I am delighted, and have often so remarked, that the position ideas and point of view of Corporate Compliance is this well represented and in such detail

            I have refuted those criticisms which dismiss as ‘craven’ the posting of such ideas in clean unfiltered language

            It is seldom that clear abc representation is made of the attitudes and processes that inform the master class, this is an invaluable education for us all – many take exception to such expression, and to such wholehearted disagreement with their own attitudes and opinions, many let loose their annoyance with slack or intemperate language, but they are misguided and in error

            The ruling class, Wall Street, the corporation class, seldom have recourse to their scribes, opportunities are rare to study and follow their ideas and thoughts in an increasingly riven environment in which debate or discussion is very often merely a shouting match

            Nor even do I hold on to the concept that there is a ‘tyranny of the majority’, despite the fact that many seek to claim or stake a majority consensus for their point of view, I am not one such, even if Think Different has become a corporate slogan

          • Gerrard, you completely missed the point here, but that was not unexpected. Still, it was worth a try. No one is beyond redemption.

          • @TW, Bryce and Rob

            There is an element I failed to mention with regard to Compliance – we see it here

            It is necessary to understand the out of ordinary conception and use of language that Corporate employs

            Their language is free from subtlety irony or sophistication, and often adopts a religious phraseology : compliance becomes redemption, I understand this to be both personal and corporate, a fusion

            Such is the foundation stone of secular faith – where others employ the hard language of practice, experience and reason

          • @TW, Bryce and Rob

            There is an element I failed to mention with regard to Compliance – we see it here

            It is necessary but not easy to understand the out of ordinary conception and use of language that Corporate employs

            Their language is free from subtlety irony or sophistication, and often adopts a religious phraseology : compliance becomes redemption, I understand this to be both personal and corporate, a fusion

            Such is the foundation stone of secular faith – where others employ the hard language of practice, experience and reason

        • If the Hill, FAA, Boeing do not see something fundamentally went wrong with ODA, delegation, granting exemptions, grandfathering of requirements and “streamlining the FAA” all for short term, competitive, financial reasons, that doesn’t bode well for the US aerospace industry. No acceptance will lead to no learning, no success.

          • The underlying assumption here is that ODA is the root of all evil, and has no redeeming value. I think that is where the division lies. If you set that aside and look at where ODA has succeeded, and where it has failed, then you have the basis for progress.

        • We don’t know if Boeing /FAA/EASA did a solid job reviewing the first MCAS with full risk analysis, we know that the late change in MCAS gain and logic did not trigger a new full risk analysis by either Boeing, FAA or EASA that risk delaying certification and require a sleeve of new flight tests. So it boils down to routines and dicipline of trigging engineering analysis and FAA/EASA communication as a complaint is raised in a flight test form. There will be 100’s of there late flight test and manufacturing induced changes and it requires skill, integrety and Communication to handle them all correctly. You cannot correct deficient engineeing skills by reshuffle the organisation at Boeing/FAA/EASA. To do the best of what skill you have you need a clear and simple organisation where the roles are firm and testing should find the misstakes.

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