FAA cites new issue with 737 MAX
The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on June 26 issued a statement that it found a new “potential risk” that Boeing must mitigate. The risk was found during the regulators continuing evaluation of Boeing’s software modification to MCAS, primarily through its Technical Advisory Board (TAB), an independent review panel focused on clearing the 737 MAX’s return to service. TAB is also involved in developing the training requirements for this process.
The FAA did not provide details on the new issue relating to the 737 MAX, but a report by Reuters notes the risk was discovered during a simulator test last week, citing sources who noted it is not clear if the issue can be addressed with a software upgrade or if it will require a more complex hardware fix. In May, the FAA stated the fixes to the MCAS system could approved by late June, which would be followed by flight tests, but this new issue is certain to add further delays.
The 737 MAX was grounded in March 2019 following the loss of Ethiopian flight ET302, five months after Lion Air went down in the sea off Jakarta in October 2018 – with a combined 344 deaths from both flights involving a 737 MAX. To put the aircraft back in service, Boeing initiated a fix for the MCAS stall-prevention software.
Boeing on June 26 put out its own statement about the new potential risk, acknowledging the FAA had identified an additional requirement during recent simulator sessions. “Boeing agrees with the FAA’s decision and request, and is working on the required software. Addressing this condition will reduce pilot workload by accounting for a potential source of uncommanded stabilizer motion. Boeing will not offer the 737 MAX for certification by the FAA until we have satisfied all requirements for certification of the MAX and its safe return to service.”
On June 27, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) released its own statement urging aviation safety regulators to continue to align on technical validation requirements and timelines for the safe re-entry into service of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The statement was made from Montreal following a second Boeing 737 MAX Summit on June 26 with representatives from 40 airlines.
IATA, which represents some 290 airlines comprising 82 per cent of global air traffic, also reiterated the need for alignment on additional training requirements for Boeing 737 MAX flight crew.
“The Boeing 737 MAX tragedies weigh heavily on an industry that holds safety as its top priority. We trust the Federal Aviation Administration, in its role as the certifying regulator, to ensure the aircraft’s safe return to service,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s director general and CEO. “And we respect the duty of regulators around the world to make independent decisions on FAA’s recommendations.
“At the same time, aviation is a globally integrated system that relies on global standards, including mutual recognition, trust, and reciprocity among safety regulators,” continued de Juniac. “This harmonized structure has worked successfully for decades to help make air travel the safest form of long distance travel the world has known. Aviation cannot function efficiently without this coordinated effort, and restoring public confidence demands it.”