According to documents obtained by Boarding Area’s Gary Leff, U.S. government and private sector officials are stepping up efforts to encourage regulatory agencies around the world for the quick recertification of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The manufacturer says that it has new safety protocols in place and expects to obtain recertification approval from the FAA.
Boeing officials have indicated that they are ready to proceed with steps which will allow U.S. regulators to lift the grounding of 737 MAX aircraft. The company says it has completed software improvements and revamped training protocols in preparation for an anticipated recertification flight.
“With safety as our clear priority, we have completed all of the engineering test flights for the software update and are preparing for the final certification flight,” Boeing CEO Dennis Muilenburg said in a statement earlier this month. “We’re committed to providing the FAA and global regulators all the information they need, and to getting it right. We’re making clear and steady progress and are confident that the 737 MAX with updated MCAS software will be one of the safest airplanes ever to fly. The accidents have only intensified our commitment to our values, including safety, quality and integrity, because we know lives depend on what we do.”
Unfortunately for the U.S-based aviation giant, convincing other regulatory agencies around the globe to lift orders grounding the planes may be less cut and dry. A new report by Boarding Area’s Gary Leff indicates that aviation industry leaders and U.S. government officials are kicking into high gear efforts to lobby foreign governing bodies for a quick recertification of the 737 MAX planes when the FAA clears the aircraft for service.
“That aircraft is airworthy, and was even after the Ethiopian accident,” American Airlines CEO Doug Parker told employees in comments first reported by Leff. “We have pilots who take the time to care first and foremost about safety and make certain they know everything the airplane that they’re in charge of that they know what it does and doesn’t do, they have great confidence in the other person in the cockpit with them that they’ve been through the exact same..training.. our pilots, our training, our aircraft, that aircraft was airworthy even with the prior software.”
Parker says, however, that factors other than safety may be at play when it comes to regulatory authorities deciding if the aircraft should remain grounded or not. He expressed cautious optimism that a planned May 23rd meeting in Dallas with regulators from around the globe will help to universally convince officials that the plane is safe.
“At that time the FAA is going to show the other regulators their views on the fix,” Parker explained. “[The FAA] will be at least very close to re-certifying the aircraft, weeks not months. Hopeful that at least some other regulators will come to the same conclusion based on what they see and learn. I know they know with relative certainty they won’t get everyone because politics are at play so there will be some parts of the world, I guess I should be fair to them, they may not come to the same conclusion. I think some of that will be because of their politics.”
Meanwhile, in anticipation of federal regulators recertifying the aircraft sooner rather than later, United Airlines CEO Oscar Munoz said that passengers will have the option of rescheduling flights rather than flying on 737 MAX planes. Before the aircraft was grounded, Southwest Airlines officials dealt with a flood of customer backlash after refusing to rebook passengers who felt unsafe flying on the MAX aircraft. Munoz appears eager to avoid this sort of PR nightmare when the planes are cleared to fly. United is, however, much less reliant on the next generation Boeing aircraft than Southwest.
“We will make it very transparent that you are on that type of aircraft and if people need any kind of adjustments we will absolutely re-book them in any way, shape or form,” Munoz told reporters this week.
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