Boeing’s Tinseth Sees ‘Orderly’ Return of Max

 - December 3, 2019, 3:43 PM

Boeing Commercial Airplanes vice president of marketing Randy Tinseth expects to see “a fairly orderly sequence” of certification of the 737 Max by the world’s aviation authorities, notwithstanding concerns expressed by Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury and International Air Transport Association head Alexandre de Juniac about a “dealignment” of regulatory agencies resulting from the twin crashes and uncoordinated grounding of the new narrowbody. Although Tinseth acknowledged the absence of the typical unanimity among international regulators at the beginning of the re-certification process as several authorities indicated they will set their own terms and conditions, he also said he has seen more coherence of opinion recently. “There are different views, but there has been a convergence over the last months,” he told AIN at Boeing’s European offices in Brussels Tuesday. “This is a welcome sign.”

Although Tinseth said he did not expect all aviation safety regulators to lift the grounding of the Max at the same time, he added that he doesn’t think the process would become chaotic. “By definition, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration [FAA] has to be the first as [certifying Boeing aircraft] is their jurisdiction. Different regulators will have different issues, but that is nothing new,” he asserted, citing the example of the certification process of new escape doors on the 737-800NG. While all authorities approved the design for a load of up to 189 passengers, France set a different limit—of 186 passengers.

“Things are coming together, which is positive,” according to Tinseth. He confirmed Boeing’s view it expects the FAA will re-certify the Max by the end of the month and that the jet will fly again in January. “This is still the plan,” he insisted, admitting that the regulator holds the final say. The FAA has repeatedly stated it has set no timeline on the Max’s approval. 

Meanwhile, Boeing continues to try to regain public and industry trust in the beleaguered jet. “A first step in rebuilding confidence [in the 737 Max] is having it available, ensuring a safe return to service of the aircraft, and [getting] the changes of the software right and certified,” Tinseth said. Regaining the confidence of pilots and cabin crew in the Boeing 737 Max represents an essential step to gain support for the return in service, he added. For several months now, Boeing has invited pilots and cabin crew to its premises to explain the changes to the airplane's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) and training, and vice-versa. “We went to speak to pilots and cabin crew of Max customers in every major market,” Tinseth revealed. Boeing also works closely with airlines on how to reassure the traveling public, albeit within limits. “Airlines have told us they feel they are better placed to do this as they have more B-to-C knowledge than Boeing,” he explained. “So airlines will take the lead on reassuring the public and define their approach depending on the market and business model.”

Tinseth admitted he did not know how quickly all the grounded Max airplanes would return to service after gaining approval. Some 400 of the aircraft delivered to customers currently stand idle while Boeing has built some 300 examples since the type’s grounding in mid-March. “It will take months before the aircraft in inventory are on the market,” Tinseth conceded. “We have only so [many] resources.”