KIRO NIGHTS

FAA appears poised to recertify the 737 Max this week

Nov 16, 2020, 5:05 PM | Updated: Nov 17, 2020, 10:11 am
Boeing 737 MAX United...
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)
(AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

The Federal Aviation Administration appears poised to recertify the flight worthiness of the 737 Max this week, perhaps as early as Wednesday morning, said sources familiar with an expected FAA announcement.

American Airlines hopes to return 737 MAX to service by end of 2020

The commercial aircraft, which was grounded after two deadly crashes and ongoing reports of safety mismanagement, has not flown nationally or internationally since March 2019.

The FAA did not return calls seeking comment. The grounding of the aircraft followed the deaths of 346 passengers and crew across two catastrophic flights, Lion Air Flight 610 in late 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 in early 2019.

In the months following the crash, numerous reports — including award-winning coverage by The Seattle Times — outlined a series of management decisions and lax FAA oversight that contributed to the twin disasters.

Ryan Rule, president of one of Boeing’s largest unions, said getting the passenger airplane back in the air will be a boost for the company and employee morale.

“I think people took this very personally,” said Rule, president of the Society of Professional Engineering and Employees in Aerospace (SPEEA).

“If this is happening this week, that’s great news,” Rule added.

In a statement, a Boeing spokesperson said the company “didn’t have anything to add at this point.”

Recertification does not mean the single-aisle airplane will return to service immediately. Thousands of pilots worldwide will require retaining on the Max’s new flight software, originally the issue that helped get the aircraft grounded.

According to a BBC report following the Lion Air crash, a faulty sensor “fed information to the plane’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System — or MCAS. That software repeatedly pushed the plane’s nose down, leaving pilots fighting for control.”

Boeing officially announces plan to move 787 production out of Everett by mid-2021

The grounding of the 737 Max, an airline industry workhorse and Boeing’s biggest selling passenger plane, hit the company hard financially, culturally, and reputationally: Victims’ families sued, airlines canceled orders and asked for billions in compensation, and critics lashed the 104-year-old company with allegations of coverups and a corporate culture that put profits over safety.

Those hits, later coupled with the subsequent pandemic, which decimated the airline industry, put the nation’s largest aerospace company in dire straights with thousands of layoffs and billions in losses.

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FAA appears poised to recertify the 737 Max this week