FAA clears Boeing 737 Max to return to service

LEAP engines on a Boeing 737 Max (Image: Aviation Media Agency)
LEAP engines on a Boeing 737 Max (Image: Aviation Media Agency)

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has cleared Boeing’s 737 Max family to fly once again following its grounding in March 2019.

The type was grounded last year following two fatal crashes attributed to the systems designed to compensate for aerodynamic changes and the types larger engines.

The so-called ‘Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System’ or ‘MCAS’ is a mode of flight control law for the 737 Max which was designed to prevent pilots inadvertently pulling the aircraft up too steeply, potentially causing a stall.

But in 2018 & 2019 faulty data from sensors caused MCAS to activate inappropriately resulting in two fatal crashes, Lion Air 610 and Ethiopian 302. 338 people lost their lives.

The recertification by the FAA comes after months of analysis and reprogramming of the flight control software as well as changes to aircraft wiring and pilot training.

Boeing 737 Max (Image: The Aviation Media Agency)
Boeing 737 Max (Image: The Aviation Media Agency)

Existing aircraft that have already been delivered swill need to upgraded to the latest software and all the changes implemented before they are allowed to entre service.

100% Confident

The FAA made clear that the certification does not mean the aircraft will “return immediately” to service.

A spokesperson for the FAA said that the changes it made Boeing make had “eliminated what caused these particular accidents” with Administrator Steve Dickson saying he was “100% confident” in the aircraft.

Boeing chief executive Dave Calhoun also said that the company itself had made changes saying “We will never forget the lives lost in the two tragic accidents that led to the decision to suspend operations,” adding “These events and the lessons we have learned as a result have reshaped our company and further focused our attention on our core values of safety, quality and integrity.”

The aircraft still needs to be certified by European regulators before it returns to European skies.

TUI 737 Max 8 G-TUMA at Manchester Airport
TUI 737 Max 8 G-TUMA at Manchester Airport

Public Confidence

It isn’t over for the 737 Max though as it still has to deal with public confidence. Some members of the public have expressed that they would actively avoid flying on the Boeing 737 Max which is operated in the UK by TUI Airways UK and Norwegian Air UK. Ryanair is also due to take delivery of the type.

In a recent poll across social media we found those that would, and those that wouldn’t fly on the 737 Max to be split 50/50.

Boeing 737 Max Poll
Boeing 737 Max Poll

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About Nick Harding 1230 Articles
Nick is the senior reporter and editor at UK Aviation News as well as working freelance elsewhere. He has his finger firmly on the pulse on Aviation, not only in the UK but worldwide. Nick has been asked to speak in a professional capacity on LBC, Heart and other broadcast networks.