Plan published by FAA for Boeing 737 MAX's return

Elias Hubbard
August 4, 2020

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) proposed an airworthiness directive requiring four main design changes to the aircraft, it said in a 36-page report on Monday evening.

Other requirements include installing new software and revising the flight manual to mandate new crew procedures.

The FAA proposals can be reviewed by the public for 45 days before a final ruling is made.

"EASA has been working closely with the FAA and Boeing throughout with the common aim of returning the 737 Max to service as soon as possible, but only once we are convinced it is safe", the European agency said.

"While we still have a lot of work in front of us, this is an important milestone in the certification process", the Chicago-based plane maker said in an emailed statement.

Boeing shares rose 1.4 per cent to US$164.47 at 12:25 NY.

The FAA's action shows that, after 16 months and numerous probes and congressional hearings, aviation regulators are satisfied that the fixes will allow the plane to safely resume service. The agency pointed to flight data recording indications that "if a single erroneously high AoA sensor input is received by the flight control system, the..."

The MAX has been grounded worldwide since March 13, 2019, following an Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed 157 people.

The FAA proposals have taken more than 18 months and include the work of more than 40 engineers, inspectors, pilots, and technical support staff. In addition, the FAA must still review and sign off on Boeing's final design documentation, issue a continued airworthiness notification to the global community, rescind the grounding order, issue airworthiness certificates, and approve operator training programs. So far, this included about 50 hours of FAA flight or simulator tests and FAA analysis of more than 4,000 hours of company flight and simulator testing.

In addition, it would require operators to complete an AoA sensor system test and perform an operational readiness flight before returning each airplane to service.

The design changes are aimed at ensuring the system has multiple mechanisms to prevent similar crashes in the future.

Travel restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic continue to slow the re-certification process for Boeing Co.'s 737 Max in Europe, even after US aviation regulators moved a step closer to allowing the grounded jet to fly again.

Kuwaiti aircraft leasing company Alafco will buy fewer aircraft from Boeing after reaching an agreement to end its legal claim over a cancelled 737 MAX order, it said on Tuesday.

Alafco said it was "looking forward to a long-lasting and mutually beneficial relationship with Boeing".

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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