The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has re-certified the Boeing 737 MAX family to fly in the United States. This comes after the type was grounded globally in March 2019, 20 months ago, following the fatal crashes of Lion Air flight JT610 and Ethiopian Airlines flight ET302. The crashes were the result of numerous design flaws with the aircraft. In addition, there were major missteps in Boeing’s management and the original certification by the FAA.
Whilst the aircraft has now been re-issued its airworthiness certificate, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the aircraft will return to flying passengers immediately. Part of the certification requires improved crew training before they are able to take to the controls. Then there’s the matter of physically updating the already delivered aircraft which were in service before the grounding. The industry is also suffering a current downturn in global passenger travel due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic. This means airlines aren’t in any rush to offer increased services like they were at the time of the grounding.
Furthermore, there is the task of updating the 450+ undelivered airframes that were built before Boeing halted production. Although this won’t prevent earlier aircraft from entering service, it will significantly delay how quickly airlines are able to accept deliveries.
Previously, countries outside of the US used the FAA’s certification as means to certify the aircraft. However, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has stated that it will go beyond the FAA’s certification. In such, it will require additional tests to take place before it allows the type to operate with European Carriers. Individual nations within the EU have the ability to prevent an aircraft type from entering its airspace. It is, however, almost certain that EASA certification will placate all member nations.
Matt is a London-based writer and reporter for International Flight Network who has been involved in aviation from a very young age. He has a particular focus on aircraft safety, accidents and technical details.