Published: Sat, May 25, 2019
Global News | By Blake Casey

U.S. regulators defend 737 Max actions

U.S. regulators defend 737 Max actions

The FAA has said it will not reverse its decision to ground the plane until it sees the findings of a multi-agency review of Boeing's plan to fix software on the 737 MAX which the plane maker has described as a common link in the two crashes.

Former NTSB Chair James Hall says the Federal Aviation Administration has lost the confidence of worldwide air regulators around the world.

The target, if achieved, means US airlines would likely not have to greatly extend costly cancellations of 737 MAX jets they have already put in place for the peak summer flying season, but the FAA representatives warned that there was no firm timetable to get the planes back in the air.

"It's taking as long as it takes to be right", Elwell said.

Once airlines get the green light, they will have to remove their Max jets from long-term storage and prepare them for flying.

Boeing did not comment on the airlines' MAX maintenance estimate, but spokesman Paul Bergman said the company's maintenance and engineering teams have been working with customers to determine how to efficiently stage work once regulators approve the fleet's return to service.

A Boeing 737 MAX 8 sits outside the hangar during a media tour of the Boeing 737 MAX at the Boeing plant in Renton, Washington December 8, 2015.

"If they unground relatively close to when we unground I think it would help with public confidence", Mr Elwell said, while adding that: "We can't be driven by some arbitrary timeline". It will tie the system to more than one sensor and make it less powerful - pilots for Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines were unable to counter the system's automatic nose-down pitch.

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An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed in March, killing all 157 people on board. The two accidents left 346 dead.

Elwell was previously criticized by USA lawmakers for not grounding the plane fast enough after the accidents.

On Wednesday, Mr Elwell threw cold water on hopes of a speedy resolution, after revealing Boeing had held off submitting a proposed software fix for review after his agency raised additional questions.

Once regulators approve Boeing Co's grounded 737 MAX jets for flight, each aircraft will likely require between 100 and 150 hours of preparation before flying, officials from the three USA airlines that operate the MAX told Reuters.

The FAA has not set out a timetable for when the 737 Max will return to service. Elwell said the FAA has not made a final decision, and that during Thursday's meeting no other country said it would insist on simulator training.

For Southwest and American, that has meant more than 100 daily flight cancellations during the summer travel season.

And that grounding appears likely to remain in place for the months ahead, given updated flight schedules showed US-based airlines have left the 737 MAX out of their operations through July and August. Both have said they will start using the aircraft as spares if they are ready to fly before those dates.

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