Boeing 737 MAX AD In “Near Future”

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The FAA is set to announce a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) on the Boeing 737 MAX that will precede an Airworthiness Directive (AD) that will set out the terms of changes to be made before the airliner can return to service, centering on design changes and crew procedures. The agency has set a 45-day comment period, though it hasn’t said exactly when the NPRM will be published. Regardless of when, the FAA says it will “retain its authority to issue airworthiness certificates and export certificates for all new 737 MAX airplanes manufactured since the grounding. The FAA will perform in-person, individual reviews of these aircraft.”

“The agency continues to follow a robust certification process,” it says. “In addition to the standard FAA certification team, the 737 MAX Technical Advisory Board (TAB) continues to provide valuable review and consultation.” The FAA admits that there are still several open items beyond the NPRM, gathering comments and finally issuing the AD. Among them: a review of proposed flight training for crews “based on the design change and crew procedures.” The FAA will also be conducting a final review of Boeing’s design documents. 

Wrapping up the notice, the FAA says that it “will not speculate when the work will be completed. The agency continues to follow a deliberate process and will take the time it needs to thoroughly review Boeing’s work. We will lift the grounding order only after FAA safety experts are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards.”

Meanwhile, the Chair of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, Peter DeFazio, has sent a letter to FAA Administrator Steve Dickson requesting the results of a safety survey the agency committed surrounding oversight of the Organization Designation Authorization (ODA) program. In particular, DeFazio, while emphasizing that a strong culture inside the FAA is necessary to be sure it maintains control and oversight of the ODA program, has specifically requested a copy of the survey, raw survey data and “analytical products that pertain to the survey results, including power-point presentations, memorandums, reports, studies, statistical analyses or any other records.” In his request, DeFazio said that the survey represented “positive steps,” but the “results must be thoroughly analyzed and properly implemented.” Dickson has until Aug. 3 to comply.

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