The FAA and Boeing flew the last of a series of certification flights with the 737 Max Wednesday, marking the completion of three days of tests to aid the evaluation of software changes to the airplane’s flight control system. While the completion of test flights marks a key milestone in the recertification process, a number of vital tasks remain, said the FAA, including evaluating the data the team of agency and Boeing engineers gathered.
“The agency is following a deliberate process and will take the time it needs to thoroughly review Boeing’s work,” said the FAA in a written statement. “We will lift the grounding order only after FAA safety experts are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards.”
Next, the FAA’s Flight Standardization Board (FSB) and the Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB)—which includes international partners from Canada, Europe, and Brazil—will evaluate minimum pilot training requirements. The FSB will issue a draft report for public comment addressing the findings of the FSB and JOEB before the FAA publishes a final FSB report.
Other tasks include an FAA review of Boeing’s final design documentation to evaluate compliance with all agency regulations. The multi-agency Technical Advisory Board (TAB) will also review the final Boeing submission and issue a final report before the FAA determines compliance. The FAA then must issue a Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community (CANIC) of pending safety actions and publish an airworthiness directive (AD) that addresses the known problems that led to the grounding. The AD will advise operators of needed corrective actions before aircraft may re-enter commercial service.
Once it rescinds its grounding order, the FAA will retain its authority to issue airworthiness certificates and export certificates for all new 737 Max airplanes manufactured since the grounding and perform in-person, individual reviews of each aircraft. Finally, the FAA will review and approve training programs for all part 121 operators.