The approval process is moving at a fast pace, taking more than a year longer than that Boeing (BA) expected. Even with the recent development, many bureaucratic procedures, plane repairs and pilot training must be completed, enough to keep airlines from putting passengers on planes until next year.
Some good news for Boeing came on Friday, when the EU Aviation Safety Agency confirmed that full clarity was also near. But it will still take more than a month for the final approval to be completed.
Patrick Ky, the agency’s executive director, told Bloomberg he was pleased with the steps Boeing had taken to keep the plane safe. But even after approval to fly again, the agency will still need Boeing to make an additional software upgrade for an extra layer of redundancy. It will probably take another two years to complete, he said.
The plane has been grounded since March 201
9 following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people.
Boeing initially hoped for a relatively short base, but it became difficult to get approval. And the FAA is facing its own criticism for the way the aircraft was approved to fly safely, and why it did not act in the five months between the first and second crashes. Embarrassing documents revealed that Boeing engineers and other employees were skeptical about the safety of the aircraft at the initial inspection of the aircraft.
For most of last year, Boeing predicted that it would fly in the fourth quarter of 2019. Earlier this year it was predicted that it would get approval by the middle of the year. Now, the end of 2020 seems to be the best case scenario for approval for the airline.
“We continue to work closely with global regulators in the strict process to re-validate the 737 Max and safely return the aircraft to commercial service,” he said. Boeing (BA). “We are committed to addressing regulators’ questions and meeting all certification and regulatory requirements.”
Last week, the FAA released a draft pilot training proposal for Max – just one-half dozen procedural initiatives the agency laid out that needed to be completed before it could give final approval for airlines to fly. the plane again.
And while the FAA works with aviation regulators around the world, other regulators have their own approval processes. Most of the 400 grounded jets are owned by foreign airlines.
In an unusual move last month, Steve Dickson, the FAA chief and a former airline pilot, made his own Max flight. After that, he said he liked what he saw on the flight, but he wanted to make some training adjustments that the pilots would accept to fly the plane again. “Not so much in the methods, but in the narrative describing the methods,” he told reporters after the flight.
The cause of the two fatal crashes is a safety feature designed to push the plane’s nose down if it is climbing too steep and in danger of a stall. But the wrong monitors gave a misreading of those two flights, and the pilots missed the planes from the dives.
The grounding costs Boeing at least $ 18.7 billion in increased production costs, compensation to its airline customers and the cost of developing improvements.
And Boeing problems have only compounded since Max’s grounding. Demand for air travel ceased earlier this year and airline losses went up when the pandemic hit, drastically reducing orders and delivering jets.
There are about 7,300 earlier versions of 737 today on airline fleets worldwide, and nearly 20% of them are parked, according to Cirium Fleets, which tracks planes in use worldwide.
Once Max is approved to fly again, airlines may be eager to continue using them, even if it means parking some of the older planes now in use. The Max was the most important Boeing jet before its foundation, in part because it was better in fuel and thus it was cheaper to operate than earlier versions.
But Boeing could still have a brand problem. With so many passengers nervous about flying in the middle of a pandemic, there is uncertainty as to how customers are willing to fly the 737 Max. Many airlines say they will allow passengers to book other flights if they do not want to fly in the 737 Max.
– CNN Hanna Ziady contributed to this report