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US NewsRegulators to consider when Boeing 737 Max can return to the air

15:00  20 may  2019
15:00  20 may  2019 Source:   ft.com

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Boeing faces a crucial test this week as global regulators meet in Texas to determine when the grounded 737 Max aircraft will return to the air , after further The FAA may be able to persuade Canadian and European regulators to adhere to that timetable, but China is expected to seek a delay.

A 737 Max at Boeing ’s assembly plant in Renton, Wash., last month. Boeing said it would temporarily stop making the 737 .Credit Elaine Thompson/Associated Press. The senior Boeing engineer said that finding such problems and fixing them was not unusual and not particular to the Max or to Boeing .

Regulators to consider when Boeing 737 Max can return to the air © AP Boeing 737 MAX 8 jetliners have been grounded Boeing faces a crucial test this week as global regulators meet in Texas to determine when the grounded 737 Max aircraft will return to the air, after further revelations of problems with software used to train pilots to fly the aircraft.

The world’s largest commercial aircraft manufacturer revealed at the weekend that it had been forced to correct a flaw in the software of flight-training simulators that are meant to reproduce the flying conditions of the Max aircraft involved in two deadly crashes in the past six months.

The disclosure is a further blow to Boeing’s credibility, which has been seriously damaged by the two crashes, in which 346 people died. Subsequent disclosures of serious design flaws both in the Max’s anti-stall system, called the manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system (MCAS), and errors involving other safety systems have further undermined the reputation of the Chicago-based company.

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Regulators grounded the planes in March after two fatal 737 Max crashes — one in Indonesia in October 2018 and another in Ethiopia in March of last "The agency is following a thorough, deliberate process to verify that all proposed modifications to the Boeing 737 MAX meet the highest certification

The return of Boeing ’s 737 Max has been delayed again. On Tuesday, the company said it did not expect regulators to approve the jet to fly again The software contributed to two accidents, in late 2018 and early 2019, that killed 346 people and led to the worldwide grounding of the Max in March.

Gallery: Airlines with the most Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in their fleet (Business Insider)

Regulators to consider when Boeing 737 Max can return to the air

This Thursday, nine global aviation regulators, including those from China, the EU, Canada and Brazil, will meet to review Boeing's application to get the Max back in the air. The aircraft maker has said it has completed work on a software fix aimed at preventing future disasters caused by the MCAS system.

But Boeing has said it is still answering questions from the US regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration, ahead of formally submitting the fix to the FAA. All of the nearly 400 Boeing 737 Max aircraft were grounded by global regulators after the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 on March 10.

The FAA, which organised the Texas meeting, said it does not need the agreement of other regulators before it approves Boeing's application. But officials say they want to avoid a repeat of what happened after the Ethiopian crash, when China grounded the aircraft before any other regulator and before analysing the flight data.

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All 737 MAX aircraft have been grounded since 13 March as regulators await Boeing ’s software update to the 737 MAX flight control system. Airlines and regulators around the world grounded the aircraft piecemeal in the wake of crash of Ethiopian flight 302 before the FAA grounded the fleet.

Regulators to consider when Boeing 737 Max can return to the air © AP Administrators from the FAA and NTSB testify before a House Transportation Committee hearing in Washington on the status of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft

US officials said China’s action was premature and undermined confidence in the global system of aviation regulation, and they want to make sure countries worldwide act together when allowing the Max back into their airspace.

People close to the meeting of regulators said they do not think an official timetable will come out of it, but the FAA was likely to inform other regulators that it hoped to conduct a crucial certification flight for the software fix by the end of May or early June, with full FAA certification before the end of June. The FAA may be able to persuade Canadian and European regulators to adhere to that timetable, but China is expected to seek a delay.

Boeing said in a statement on Sunday: “We are providing the FAA and global regulators, as well as pilots and airlines, whatever information they need to restore their confidence in the MAX and safely return the aircraft to flight.”

On Saturday, Boeing said that software used on the Max training simulator was unable to reproduce some flight conditions, including the conditions which led to the crash of the Ethiopian flight. The preliminary crash report from the Ethiopian authorities revealed that the pilots of that flight were flying at relatively high speed and were unable to overcome the power of the MCAS system.

Additional reporting by Josh Spero

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