Changes to the way the FAA certifies aircraft are said to be part of the Joint Authorities Technical Review panel’s report on the Boeing 737 MAX, due next week. CNN is citing sources close to the panel saying that it is in the “final stages of completing their work” and that it will recommend changes to the certification process to prevent issues from “falling through the cracks,” as they did with the MAX’s MCAS flight-control software, which has been implicated in two fatal crashes.
The panel is also expected to call into question the degree to which the FAA has allowed Boeing to evaluate its own processes under the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program. The FAA has maintained that it needs the ODA to keep up with certification programs after budget cuts and lack of resources to service large manufacturers like Boeing.
In response to those criticisms, the FAA says that the “certification of the Boeing 737 MAX is the subject of several independent reviews and investigations that will examine all aspects of the five-year effort. While the agency’s certification processes are well-established and have consistently produced safe aircraft designs, we welcome the scrutiny from these experts and look forward to their findings. We will carefully review all recommendations and will incorporate any changes that would improve our certification activities.”
The JATR panel has members from nine foreign aviation agencies, but does not have representation from Boeing. This panel is distinct from the internal FAA review process.
Meanwhile, Boeing continues logistical preparations for the 737 MAX’s return to service. Boeing is set to add “a few hundred” employees to maintain and prepare stored, undelivered aircraft. Boeing currently has newly produced aircraft parked throughout Washington state, including at the Moses Lake airport, 150 miles east of Seattle.
Reuters is reporting that Boeing will move the aircraft from Moses Lake to Seattle and Everett airports in preparation for delivery once the aircraft is cleared to resume flying. Boeing says it expects the jet to be flying again before the end of the year.