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FAA Raises Oversight for Boeing 737 MAX Certification

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The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) said yesterday that it would exercise full control over the certification of every 737 MAX aircraft built by Boeing (BA). That means every MAX plane coming off the assembly line will need FAA’s certification before they get delivered to customers.

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Boeing 737 MAX can’t self-certify anymore

The new aircraft certification process is entirely different from what the FAA had in the past. Over the decades, the American regulator only certified the overall type of the plane. It used to delegate other routine day-to-day activities, such as certifying individual airplanes of an already accredited type, to the planemaker.

In a letter sent to Boeing, the US regulatory body announced its changed certification approach for every 737 MAX aircraft. Reuters revealed the message in its November 26 report. The letter says, “FAA retain authority to issue airworthiness certificates and export certificates of airworthiness for all 737 MAX airplanes.”

The FAA’s latest move reflects its attempt to regain goodwill and show its independency from Boeing. Notably, the American regulator has faced criticism for having close ties with the planemaker. Also, it was blamed for delegating critical MAX certification processes to the planemaker employees.

Further delay in Boeing 737 MAX certification

Yesterday, the FAA said that it would take all the time it needs to verify the safety of MAX. The regulator said that it hadn’t completed the review of design changes and associated pilot training.

Notably, Boeing 737 MAX is facing worldwide grounding since mid-March following two fatal accidents within five months. The company is working to fix the software issue in MAX’s flight-control system. This is mainly what caused the two deadly crashes. Boeing needs the FAA and other global regulators’ certification for the updated software.

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However, the FAA’s latest comment further casts a shadow over Boeing MAX’s return to services. Earlier this month, Boeing said that it expects to resume MAX deliveries in mid-December. Also, it forecasts that airlines would gain regulatory approval for continuing their MAX services in January. However, we believe that Boeing will most likely miss both targets given the pending FAA’s certification. Moreover, the FAA’s changed certification approach for MAX could further delay its return.

Despite frozen deliveries since April, the company hasn’t stopped the production of the 737 MAX. Nevertheless, it reduced the monthly output by 19% to 42 units in April. At this production rate, approximately 380 Boeing MAX planes would be in storage at the end of November. All these aircraft now require the FAA’s certifications. We believe this will be a time-consuming process.

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Boeing debuts new plane amid MAX crisis

Amid ongoing uncertainty over the 737 MAX’s return, Boeing launched a new variant under the series. During a ceremony last Friday, the company introduced the 737 MAX 10 aircraft. This is the largest model under the 737 MAX series.

The company claims that the variant offers the lowest seat-mile cost in the single-aisle narrow-body aircraft category. The model has a seating capacity of 230 passengers. Already, Boeing got orders for over 550 MAX 10 airplanes and commitments from more than 20 customers worldwide.

Dubai event brings surprise orders

Last week, the Dubai Air Show event brought unexpected orders for Boeing. During the event, the aircraft manufacturer received the first official order for its grounded 737 MAX airplane. On November 18, Turkey-based SunExpress signed a deal to buy ten 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

On the following two days, Boeing received over four dozen MAX orders from two customers. In total, the company booked orders for 60 737 MAX aircraft. This is worth $7.2 billion at the list price. For more details about Boeing’s performance at the Dubai event, read Boeing Logs MAX Orders amid Uncertainty Over Return. Also, read, Boeing Gets Order Boost for Troubled 787 Dreamliner.

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