After nearly two years of scrutiny, corporate turmoil and confrontation with international aviation regulators, Boeing received FAA clearance on Wednesday to reopen its 737-MAX aircraft. The ban on flying was introduced after two crashes that were caused by technical errors in the design of the 737-MAX.
The FAA ruling detailed the company’s software enhancements and pilot training changes that Boeing had to implement in order to resume commercial flights that had been banned for 20 months, the longest ban in commercial aviation history.
In 2018, a 737-MAX aircraft crashed in Indonesia, and five months later a similar aircraft crashed in Ethiopia. A total of 346 people died. As a result of investigations, it turned out that the cause of both accidents were mistakes made by the aircraft manufacturer. The tragedies undermined the US leadership in the global aircraft industry and cost Boeing about $ 20 billion.
Commercial flights of the 737-MAX will resume amid serious challenges facing US aviation due to the coronavirus pandemic. In addition, sales success will be complicated by new EU trade tariffs on the United States and distrust in one of the once most trusted and closely monitored aviation brands.
The 737-MAX is an updated version of the jet aircraft first introduced in the 1960s. Narrow-body aircraft such as the MAX and its rival A320-neo, manufactured by European conglomerate Airbus, are the most user-friendly vehicles. They dominate the international passenger airliner fleet and are the main source of revenue for the industry.
American Airlines plans to resume flights on MAX starting December 29. Another American airline, Southwest Airlines, which is the world’s largest operator of this series of aircraft, has no plans to resume flights at MAX until the second quarter of 2021.
Aviation regulators in Europe, Brazil and China must also authorize MAX flights after conducting their own independent audits. Thus, the disasters in Indonesia and Ethiopia have led to the loss of American security leadership. In the past, for decades, foreign regulatory authorities have coordinated with decisions made by the FAA.
Once MAX flights resume, Boeing will open a 24-hour facility that will monitor all MAX flights to detect possible technical issues that could affect the landing process, from a jammed landing gear to health emergencies for passengers or crew, three said. source familiar with the situation.
FAA Director Steve Dixon signed an order to lift the ban on Boeing 737-MAX flights early Wednesday morning. At the same time, the agency issued a directive on the airworthiness of the aircraft, detailing the changes that the manufacturing company must implement.
The FAA has demanded a new pilot training procedure and software updates to prevent potential problems with the stall prevention system (MCAS). It was the peculiarities of the MCAS that led to plane crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia: the system repeatedly knocked off the course, while the pilots unsuccessfully tried to regain control of the plane.