The FAA says it’s establishing a new “safety division” but says it has nothing to do with the Boeing 737 MAX. The Washington Post first revealed the new department but the agency says it’s old news, part of a reorganization that began two years ago. “The FAA is constantly evolving and changing to continue addressing the safety needs of the flying public,” FAA spokeswoman Briana Manzelli told CNBC. “The primary role of this branch is to better coordinate the FAA’s aircraft certification efforts.” Meanwhile, Boeing and the FAA seem to be at odds over the timeline for recertification of the MAX and the agency is talking tough.
In advance of a meeting between FAA Administrator Steve Dickson and Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg, Philip Newman, the agency’s assistant administrator for government and industry affairs, sent an email to relevant congressional committees raising concerns about Boeing’s apparently optimistic return-to-service predictions and asserting that there will be no rush to approval for the MAX. “More concerning, the Administrator wants to directly address the perception that some of Boeing’s public statements have been designed to force FAA into taking quicker action,” Newman wrote. Boeing brass emerged from the meeting hopeful if not exactly optimistic. “Boeing reaffirmed with the FAA that safety is our top shared priority, and we committed to addressing all of the FAA’s questions as they assess MAX certification and training requirements,” Boeing spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a statement. “We will work with the FAA to support their requirements and their timeline as we work to safely return the Max to service in 2020.”