The FAA will now be the sole issuer of airworthiness certificates for all newly manufactured Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, the agency said in a letter to Boeing on Tuesday. Citing “public interest and safety in air commerce,” the FAA stated that it would retain that authority—which was previously delegated to Boeing through the organization designation authorization (ODA) program—until it believes the manufacturer has “fully functional quality control and verification processes in place; delivery processes are similarly functional and stable; and Boeing’s 737 MAX compliance, design, and production processes meet all regulatory standards and conditions for delegation and ensure the safety of the public.”
The MAX was grounded last March following the fatal crashes of Lion Air Flight 610 on Oct. 29, 2018, and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10, 2019, both 737 MAX 8 aircraft. As previously reported by AVweb, Boeing was hopeful that the aircraft could be ungrounded as early as December and airlines including Southwest and American are currently planning to begin using their MAX fleets again in March. The FAA and Administrator Stephen Dickson have repeatedly stated that the agency will not be following a prescribed timeline for returning the 737 MAX to service and will do so only once it has been determined the model is safe.