By David Koenig and T.O.M. Kerrisher, AP Business Writers
After nearly two years and a pair of fatal accidents, the US Federal Aviation Administration has approved Boeing’s 737 MAX for flight.
The country’s Air Safety Agency announced the move early Wednesday, saying it was done after a “comprehensive and methodological” 20-month review process.
In March 2019, Max was put under fire by regulators around the world after the Ethiopian Airlines jet crashed. This happened less than five months after another Max flown by Lion Air of Indonesia fell into the Java Sea. A total of 346 passengers and crew members were killed on both planes.
The aircraft will not return to the sky for some time. The FAA states that it should approve pilot training changes for each American airline and that airlines must perform the necessary maintenance on the aircraft.
The FAA says the move was done in collaboration with air safety regulators worldwide. The FAA said in a statement, “Those regulators have indicated that Boeing’s design changes, along with crew procedures and training enhancements, will give the aircraft confidence to consider it safe to fly in its country and territories.”
The move came after several congressional hearings on the crash, which led to criticism from the FAA that caused Lax Oversight and Boeing to flee to implement a new software system that had an advantage over security and ultimately the firing of their CEO Caused
Investigators focused on the anti-stall software that Boeing designed to counter the aircraft’s propensity for nose-tilt tilt due to engine size and placement. The software repeatedly knocked the nose down on both aircraft, which crashed as pilots struggled to gain control. In each case, a single faulty sensor triggered a nose-down pitch.
The FAA requires Boeing to make changes to the software so as not to repeatedly combat potential aerodynamic cover under the nose of the plane. Boeing says the software also does not eliminate pilot control, as it did in the past. Boeing will have to change the way the pilots install new display systems and route the wires to the tail stabilizer bar.
Boeing’s redemption comes in the midst of an epidemic that has frightened passengers and reduced the aviation industry, limiting the company’s ability to make a comeback. Air travel in the US alone is down about 65% from a year ago.
Sales of new aircraft have declined due to the Max crisis and the coronavirus epidemic. This year more than 1,000 MaxJet orders have been canceled or removed from Boeing’s backlog. Each aircraft has a sticker price between $ 99 million and $ 135 million, although airlines routinely pay less than the list price.
John Hansman, an aeronautics professor at MIT, said that people usually avoid airplanes for a few months because of problems. But Max’s case is unusual, and were it not for the novel coronovirus, Hansman said he would feel safe flying over Max.
“This entire case has been investigated more than any other airplane in the world,” he said. “This is probably the safest airplane.”
American is the only US airline to bring back Max starting December 29 with a round trip daily between New York and Miami.
About 400 Max jets were in service worldwide when they were grounded, and Boeing has since built and stored about 450 more. All have to undergo maintenance and get some modifications before taking flight.
The pilots would also undergo simulator training, which was not required when the aircraft was introduced. Hansman said pilot training for qualified 737 pilots should not be lengthy because Boeing fixed problems with Max’s software. The company posted a summary of changes to the aircraft.
Relatives of those killed in the crash remain unconnected to Max’s safety. He accused Boeing of hiding important design features from the FAA, and said the company tried to fix the trend for the nose of the aircraft, with the software implicated in both crashes.
“The flying public should avoid Max,” said Michael Stumo, whose 24-year-old daughter died in another accident. “Change your flight.” It is still a more dangerous aircraft than other modern aircraft. “
Boeing’s reputation has suffered a setback since the accidents. Its then CEO Dennis Muilenberg initially suggested that foreign pilots be blamed. However, congressional investigators discovered an FAA analysis – previously conducted after the Max crash – predicted that 15 more crashes would occur during the aircraft’s life span if flight control software was not fixed.
After an 18-month investigation, the House Transportation Committee blamed Boeing, which was pressured to develop Max, to compete with an aircraft from European rival Airbus, and the FAA, which certified Max and was the last agency in the world . To ground it after a crash. Investigators said Boeing faced a “culture of concealment”, and pressured a mob to bring aircraft on the market.
Boeing was repeatedly wrong about how quickly it could fix the aircraft. Muillenberg was fired in December 2019 when those predictions continued to go wrong, and Boeing was perceived as putting undue pressure on the FAA.
Dixon – who flew F-15 fighters in the Air Force before serving as a pilot and an executive at Delta Air Lines – flew in person before the aircraft was cleaned.
In recent weeks, European regulators have also indicated their possible approval of Boeing’s work. Regulators in Canada and China are still conducting their review. Relatives say it’s too soon, and they and their attorneys say Boeing and the FAA are withholding the documents.
Naivis Ryan, an Irish citizen whose husband died in an Ethiopian crash, said that Max “is the same airplane that crashed not once but twice because safety was not a priority for this company.”
Anton Sahadi, who lives in Jakarta, Indonesia, and lost two brothers in the Lion Air crash, said he thinks it is too early for Max to fly again.
“I, personally, feel very sorry for Boeing’s decision to underground the 737 Max,” he said. The cases have not yet been 100% ended by the incidents. Many of them are still in process. I think the family of all the victims in Indonesia and Ethiopia will feel the same, so regrets why it might fly again because we are still in the recovery process for our problems due to the events. “
Koenig, who reported from Dallas, can be reached at www.twitter.com/airlinewriter. Reported from Detroit. Edna Tarigan in Jakarta, Indonesia contributed to this report.
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