After almost three years on the ground, the 737 MAX saga is slowly coming to a close as sources have indicated that the FAA could unground the Boeing 737 MAX as early as November 18.
In a Reuters exclusive, they reported that three internal sources at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are saying that the agency could lift the ban as early as next week. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson also shared similar sentiments, saying: “this process will be finished in the coming days, once the agency is satisfied that Boeing has addressed.”
A cautious Dickson re-iterated that his agency would not be rushed into ungrounding the aircraft until his team is satisfied that the jet is safe to fly again.
“As I have said many times before, the agency will take the time that it needs to thoroughly review the remaining work. Even though we are near the finish line, I will lift the grounding order only after our safety experts are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards.”
With hundreds of MAXs parked up for more than two years, airlines would still need some time to get their aircraft back into the air. Pilots would have to be re-trained, and the aircraft would require the necessary software updates along with preparatory works to return to flying state. Airlines like American and Southwest will have a huge task at hand to bring their current share of MAXs back into service, as one could take as much as 30 days to be restored.
American Airlines for instance is aiming to bring their first MAX aircraft back into service by the end of the year. In an effort to boost the public’s confidence, they are planning to allow the potential customers to tour the aircraft, and will allow travelers to speak directly with pilots and mechanics familiar with the aircraft via video and audio channels. Customers making bookings will also be notified if they are flying on a MAX aircraft, and will be allowed to switch to another type without penalty if they feel uncomfortable.
European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) boss Patrick Ky, said that he was pleased with changes made to the aircraft, and expects that the agency could grant approval by the end of November assuming all goes well.
China’s civil aviation regulators have not given any timeline yet regarding testing, and Transport Canada is still in the process of analyzing the results.
[Featured Photo: Aka The Beav/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)]