FAA chief liked 737 MAX changes, but not enough to be certified
After completing a 737 MAX test flight, FAA’s administrator Steve Dickson said he “liked what he saw.” However, when asked if he would “put his family on the aircraft,” Dickson replied that the recertification process was not yet complete.
The chief of the agency completed the two-hour flight on September 30, 2020. After the test run, Dickson gave his statement at the news briefing, mentioning the promise that he made in November 2019 to fly the 737 MAX and sign off its service return only when he would be “comfortable putting (his) family on it.”
When a viewer asked him to elaborate, the FAA’s chief was not at all straightforward with his answer.
“My flight today, and the training that I undertook, gives me an excellent baseline as an aviator to be able to understand the systems and how they are being utilized on the flight deck and how the plane performs,” Dickson said. “It has been a productive, constructive week, and I liked what I saw on the flight this morning. But we’re not to the point yet where we have completed the process.”
Overall, Dickson felt like the plane responded well when he performed two landings and some air work maneuvers over the two-hour test flight.
At the same time, the FAA’s chief remained critical of the 737 MAX’s current state, saying that some “debrief items” and “observations” remained for both the Boeing and FAA teams.
When asked why anyone would trust the FAA’s certification of the 737 MAX after the crashes and events that followed, Dickson mentioned working with other authorities like the National Transportation Safety Board and the Special Aircraft Certification Committee as a part of the process.
He also said that the implemented “action items” by the authorities regarding the 737 MAX would form the basis of certification reforms the FAA is currently undertaking.
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