Nov. 23, 2020, © Leeham News: I’m okay with flying on board the Boeing 737 MAX.
Yes, Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration screwed up royally.
And yes, there’s solid reason to distrust the company and the agency, wondering if they got it right this time.
Which is why for me the tipping point is the involvement of Transport Canada and Europe’s EASA are the reasons to trust getting back on the MAX.
LNA addresses the safety in our new podcast feature, 10 Minutes About. The inaugural podcast, 10 Minutes About the Boeing 737 MAX recertification may be heard here.
It may be remembered that Transport Canada and EASA grounded the 737 before the FAA. Transport Canada also said early on that it will likely require simulator training. EASA said it will likely require installation of a third Angle of Attack sensor, in the form of a synthetic one.
These telegraphed punches appear ready to come to pass. Both said last week they will require additional conditions for recertification compared with the FAA. From a practical standpoint, if these conditions are associated with the airplane (as opposed to training), Boeing will make changes common to the global fleet.
Then there is the involvement of global regulators in the joint technical review board that reviewed the design and certification process.
Finally, the FAA took away Boeing’s lead role for certifying each plane before delivery, a humiliating blow. The FAA will certify each and every plane before it’s delivered to the customer.
If recertification was relying only on the FAA’s oversight and review of Boeing’s work, I’d be skeptical. But the involvement of Transport Canada and EASA is crucial.
The next chance Boeing and the FAA have to redeem themselves is the certification of the 777X. (Certification of the 7 MAX and 10 MAX don’t count in this context; these are part of the greater MAX process.)
Entry-into-service for the 777X is now planned for 2022. There’s plenty of time to get the 777X “right.” How this will be demonstrated to the flying public, via the media, remains to be seen.
What are the lessons learned coming out of the MAX crisis?
Boeing still hasn’t learned some of these lessons. Notably, the Board of Directors remains, for the most part, a good-old-boys network shockingly absent of expertise in commercial aviation design and production. Chairman Larry Kellner doesn’t count. He comes from the airline industry.
I previously suggested that adding representation from SPEEA and the IAM 751 would be a good idea. I was under no illusions that this would happen, however.
Bringing a top expert from the supply chain, whether retired or a consultant, also would be a good idea. Having a couple of retired Navy Admirals on board is fine—and this is good for the defense side—but what do they truly know about commercial aviation?
Boeing learned many lessons. It still has many to go, however.