The Federal Aviation Administration administrator Steve Dickson is upbeat about the 737 MAX after a test flight today.
A former airline pilot, Dickson is licensed to fly the 737 and flew the MAX for more than 90 minutes over Washington state after completing simulator training.
“I like what I saw on the flight,” Dickson told a media conference but cautioned that “we are not to the point yet where we have completed the process [of re-certification].”
However, while he added, “that doesn’t mean I don’t have some debrief items going forward,” these were described by him as tweaks “not so much in the procedures, but in the narrative that describes the procedures.”
Dickson was the senior vice president of Flight Operations for Delta Air Lines ad flew 727s, 737s, 757s 767s and A320s and is a former USAF F-15 pilot.
FAA, Canadian and European regulator’s pilots have flown the 737 MAX with a full suite of modifications and are now analysing the data.
The 737 MAX was grounded in March last year after two crashes related to the aircraft’s software.
In a statement, Boeing said: “We are grateful to the FAA for the rigorous process that will lead to the safe return to service of the 737 MAX. We stand ready to provide the support required to complete the remaining milestones laid out by the FAA and international regulators.”
Last month Seeking Alpha reported that Patrick Ky, Executive Director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency said that the 737 MAX could receive approval to fly next month.
Seeking Alpha said: “EASA expects to lift its technical ban “not long” after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, probably in November, but national operational clearances needed for individual airlines to resume flying in Europe could take longer, Ky told French aerospace journalists.”
Last week the chairman of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board endorsed the proposed safety upgrades for the 737 MAX, paving the way for the FAA to lift its ban on the 737 MAX before the end of the year.
The 737 MAX is now a virtually a new plane from the perspective of flight control and systems and has been exhaustively tested over the last 18 months.
The US FAA has employed 40 engineers, inspectors, pilots, and technical support staff in 60,000 hours of work to tick off the changes.
Those numbers are however minor compared to the effort Boeing has made to build multiple layers of protection to make the 737 MAX the safest it can possibly be.
Helping to achieve that Boeing has held 20 conferences with over 1,100 participants from 250 organizations and has involved 565 pilots from 141 airlines to gain feedback on design change