CHICAGO - On Monday, Boeing released a list of "five milestones" the company and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) must hit before the grounded 737 Max can return to regular service following a worldwide grounding of the plane earlier this year after a pair of deadly crashes involving the jet's Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).
Boeing, who noted it was aiming to have its best selling Max line back in the air - and new models delivered to customers - this winter. Boeing stated that it hoped to have deliveries resume by December, 2019, and return to service in January, 2020. That goal, however, is subject to FAA approval.
"While the FAA and other regulatory authorities will determine the timing of certification and return to commercial service, Boeing continues to target FAA certification of the MAX flight control software updates during this quarter," the company noted in a news release. "Based on this schedule, it is possible that the resumption of MAX deliveries to airline customers could begin in December, after certification, when the FAA issues an Airworthiness Directive rescinding the grounding order. In parallel, we are working towards final validation of the updated training requirements, which must occur before the MAX returns to commercial service, and which we now expect to begin in January."
The Chicago-based aerospace giant laid out five milestones that need to be met before the Max could return to the skies, including one that the company had already completed: FAA eCab simulator certification session. Boeing said that the eCab certification was completed over multi-day simulator evaluation with the FAA to ensure the overall software system performs its intended function, both normally and in the presence of system failures.
In addition, Boeing aims to complete:
- FAA line pilots crew workload evaluation: A separate, multi-day simulator session with airline pilots to assess human factors and crew workload under various test conditions.
- FAA certification flight test: FAA pilots will conduct a certification flight(s) of the final updated software.
- Boeing final submittal to the FAA: After completion of the FAA certification flight, Boeing will submit the final certification deliverables and artifacts to the FAA to support software certification.
- Joint Operational Evaluation Board (JOEB) simulator training evaluation: The Joint Operational Evaluation Board (JOEB), a multi-regulatory body, conducts a multi-day simulator session with global regulatory pilots to validate training requirements. Following the simulator session, the Flight Standardization Board will release a report for a public comment period, followed by final approval of the training.
"At each step of this process, Boeing has worked closely with the FAA and other regulators," the company noted in a release. "We’re providing detailed documentation, had them fly in the simulators, and helped them understand our logic and the design for the new procedures, software and proposed training material to ensure that they are completely satisfied as to the airplane’s safety. The FAA and other regulatory authorities will ultimately determine return to service in each relevant jurisdiction. This may include a phased approach and timing may vary by jurisdiction."