FAA Nears Decision on Boeing 737 MAX

The Federal Aviation Administration is nearing a decision on the troubled Boeing 737 MAX, releasing a statement saying it will finalize an airworthiness directive “in the near future.”

The 737 MAX has been grounded for commercial flights since March 2019 after two separate crashes killed 346 passengers and crew.

Boeing had to make design changes to the plane’s flight control system, a software issue that put the aircraft into a nosedive that pilots could not pull out of.

But while “in the near future” might seem vague, it only means that there is much work still to be done. Even before the FAA gives its go-ahead, there will be a 45-day public comment period on the decision and on the fixes Boeing has made. It could take two to four weeks for those comments to be considered as part of a final report.

After that, pilots must be re-trained on the 737 MAX for new protocols as well as “procedures to mitigate the safety issues identified during the investigations that followed the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines accidents,” the FAA said.

From June 29-July 1, FAA test pilots and engineers flew a 737 MAX and put the plane through various scenarios to evaluate the changes Boeing made. FAA Administrator Stephen Dickson has said he still wants to fly the plane himself first before making a decision.

“The agency continues to follow a deliberate process and will take the time it needs to thoroughly review Boeing’s work,” the FAA said in its statement Tuesday. “We will lift the grounding order only after FAA safety experts are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards.”

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