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FAA mulls ordering 4 safety fixes to Boeing 737 MAX as fleet remains grounded

News from Global News – link to story

By David Shepardson Reuters ~ Posted August 3, 2020

thumb.00_00_02_03.Still001.jpg?w=636&qua The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Friday issued a warning directive for 2,000 registered Boeing 737 NG and Classic aircraft in the country that have been in storage, warning they could have corrosion that could lead to dual-engine failure.

The US. Federal Aviation Administration said on Monday it is proposing requiring four key Boeing 737 MAX design changes to address safety issues seen in two crashes that killed 346 people and led to the plane’s grounding in March 2019.

The agency is issuing a proposed airworthiness directive to require updated flight-control software, revised display-processing software to generate alerts, revising certain flight-crew operating procedures, and changing the routing of some wiring bundles.

The announcement is significant but there are still other major steps, including finalizing pilot-training procedures, that must be completed before the 737 MAX can resume flights. The public has 45 days to comment on the changes and it is still unclear if flights will resume before the end of 2020.

The FAA said in a separate 96-page report released on Monday that it “has preliminarily determined that Boeing’s proposed changes to the 737 MAX design, flight crew procedures and maintenance procedures effectively mitigate the airplane-related safety issues” in the two fatal crashes.

The airworthiness directive seeks to require Boeing changes.

The FAA said the changes minimize “dependence on pilot action and the effect of any potential single failure.”

The FAA’s extensive review has taken more than 18 months and included the full-time work of more than 40 engineers, inspectors, pilots, and technical support staff.

To date, the FAA has conducted more than 60,000 hours of review, certification testing, and document evaluation.

The agency is also proposing that 737 MAX operators conduct an Angle of Attack (AOA) sensor system test and perform an operational readiness flight prior to returning each airplane to service.

The changes are designed to prevent the erroneous activation of a key system known as MCAS tied to both crashes, to alert pilots if two AOA sensors are receiving conflicting data and to ensure flight crew can recognize and respond to erroneous stabilizer movement.

The wiring change will ensure the MAX complies with the FAA’s wire separation safety standards.

© 2020 Reuters

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Wiring Fixes Among Changes FAA Will Require Before MAX Can Return
Sean Broderick August 03, 2020
Boeing 737 MAX 8
Credit: Boeing
WASHINGTON—The FAA’s proposed steps for operators to clear Boeing 737 MAXs for service include separating wire bundles deemed to be noncompliant with regulations and conducting “readiness” flights to ensure the long-grounded aircraft are airworthy, a draft notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) made public Aug. 3 reveals.

The wire-bundle issue, discovered during regulators’ comprehensive review of the MAX’s design and certification, concerns horizontal stabilizer trim arm and control wiring that runs the length of the aircraft. The FAA found that the wiring needs to be separated in 12 places to meet 2007 regulatory changes put in place to prevent wiring failures from creating hazards. 

The agency ordered Boeing to fix the issue on new-production MAXs and develop instructions for in-service aircraft. 

Many MAX operators planned to take advantage of the ongoing grounding and make the wiring changes before returning their MAXs to revenue flying, using service instructions Boeing issued on June 10. What was not clear: whether the FAA would require operators to address the issue before the MAXs flew again or give them the flexibility of a longer window for compliance, which is typical for many airworthiness directives. The NPRM confirms that the wiring work is one of several steps that must be completed on each existing MAX before returning to revenue service.

Because Boeing made the in-service modification work package available nearly two months ago and the FAA tentatively approved its contents, the agency’s wiring mandate is not expected to add time to MAX return-to-service preparation. 

Updating MAX wiring, while an important regulatory compliance issue, is an ancillary change in the package of upgrades that will end what will likely be an 18-month-plus fleet grounding. The major changes are installing updated flight control computer (FCC) software that modifies the MAX’s maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS); new “MAX Display System” software that gives pilots more information on anomalies; and putting pilots through new, updated training. 

MCAS, implicated as a central factor in two fatal 737 MAX 8 accidents that led regulators to ground the model in March 2019, commands automatic horizontal stabilizer inputs to help the MAX handle like its 737 Next Generation predecessor. The software changes ensure MCAS functions as intended, but does not confuse or overwhelm pilots, and only activates when intended. Its original design, which relied on data from a single angle of attack (AOA) sensor, left it susceptible to a single-point failure. Boeing assumed pilots would recognize and react to unneeded MCAS inputs quickly, but the two MAX accidents, Lion Air Flight 610 in October 2018 and Lion Air Flight 302 in March 2019, showed the company was wrong.

The NPRM and a related FAA summary of its MAX review emphasize that work still remains. The largest piece is having regulators and line pilots validate proposed changes to MAX pilot training. A Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB) review, including participation from Brazilian, Canadian, European, and U.S. pilots and regulators, must be done, followed by an FAA-led Flight Standardization Board (FSB) report that will establish minimum training curriculum for MAX pilots. COVID-19 pandemic-related travel restrictions have presented issues for the JOEB work, which would normally be done in one location. The FAA on July 21 said “final planning is underway” for the JOEB and FSB pilot evaluations but did not offer details on timing.

Among the major training changes expected to be adopted: mandatory simulator sessions for all prospective MAX pilots. Previously, pilots with 737 type ratings could transition to the MAX following computer-based differences training. The FAA also is proposing changes to seven non-normal checklists (NNCs): runaway stabilizer; stabilizer trim inoperative; airspeed unreliable; altitude disagree; AOA disagree; speed trim fail; and horizontal stabilizer out of trim. Some changes are linked to the FCC modifications, while others stem from human factors research that found problems with their language or logic. It also is adding an eighth NNC, indicated airspeed disagree, to the airplane flight manual.

The FAA’s analysis broke the MAX safety issues into seven categories: MCAS relying on a single AOA sensor; MCAS’s repetitive commands; MCAS’s stabilizer-trim adjustment authority; flight crew recognition and response; how the MAX alerted pilots of an AOA disagree; other possible horizontal stabilizer failures; and MCAS-related maintenance procedures. FAA’s directive and the pending training plan addresses each of them. 

A required “readiness flight” will validate the software upgrades on each aircraft.

Fixes to the single-AOA sensor issue include the updated FCC software “to eliminate MCAS reliance on a single AOA sensor signal by using both AOA sensor inputs and changing flight control laws to safeguard against MCAS activation due to a failed or erroneous AOA sensor,” the FAA said. Neither the NPRM nor the FAA summary discuss adding additional AOA sensors.

MAX training will be finalized separately and will include a public-comment period. Once the training program is approved, the FAA will issue an airworthiness directive mandating the return-to-service steps. The agency is not working with a time line. The NPRM is in final pre-publication stages and should be out in the coming days. It stipulates a 45-day comment period, meaning the FAA will not publish a final version until mid-September at the earliest. MAX operators have said they will need at least a month, and likely more, to upgrade their MAXs, ensure they are ready to fly following extended stints on the ground, work them back into flight schedules, and train pilots.

Sean Broderick

Senior Air Transport & Safety Editor Sean Broderick covers aviation safety, MRO, and the airline business from Aviation Week Network's Washington, D.C. office.

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Pretty obvious that MAX will not return to scheduled commercial service in US this year. Probably January or February 2021.

Canada will be at least as long or perhaps a couple of months longer. I expect a longer delay for Europe due EASA.

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the PDF is 36 pages long so if you want to read the details the goto is: https://www.faa.gov/news/media/attachments/19_035n-R3-8-3-20.pdf


Boeing 737 MAX AD NPRM Now Available for Early Public Review

Today, the FAA sent a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for a Boeing 737 MAX airworthiness directive (AD) (PDF) to the Office of the Federal Register for publication. The NPRM proposes mandating a number of design changes to address an identified unsafe condition. When the NPRM publishes in the Federal Register, a 45 day public comment period will begin. The FAA is posting the NPRM on its website today to enable the public to begin review early.

The FAA will also be placing the Preliminary Summary of the FAA’s Review of the Boeing 737 MAX (PDF) in the docket to assist with the review of the proposed AD.

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I think this says a lot about Boeing and why they are in the position they are in.


FAA proposes fining Boeing $1.25 million for exerting pressure on safety reps in South Carolina

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday proposed a fine of more than $1.25 million for Boeing, alleging that senior managers exerted undue pressure or interfered with the work of employees designated to represent the FAA in safety inspections.

According to an FAA charging letter, at least four senior Boeing managers at the company’s plant in South Carolina — including the vice president of 787 operations, the senior quality manager and the director of delivery — pressured engineers and inspectors charged with overseeing quality control in production of the 787 Dreamliner.

Those managers should not have been directly involved in the process of signing off on quality and safety, which is the purview of a specific team of Boeing employees who are designated to represent the FAA and to perform independent inspections of aircraft production on behalf of the safety agency.

The FAA letter accuses these senior managers of “pressuring,” “harassing,” and “berating the performance of” engineers, inspectors and managers in the oversight program, known as Organization Designation Authorization (ODA).

The allegations shine a spotlight on how FAA oversight is delegated to Boeing. Weaknesses in that delegation system were also exposed in the investigations into how Boeing’s 737 MAX was certified before the two fatal crashes that grounded the jet.


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$1.25 million is hardly punitive or even a deterrent for other organizations.  The FAA has obviously learned nothing here or is too influenced by political pressures.


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Boeing deliveries slow to a trickle, while 737 MAX cancellations grow

So far this year, the firm MAX backlog has shrunk by 864 aircraft: a total of 416 MAXs have been outright canceled and an additional 448 removed from the backlog as no longer certain.

As of the end of July, the firm backlog for the 737 MAX models stands at 3,498 airplanes, Boeing’s data shows. Airbus cites the order backlog for its rival A320neo family of jets at 6,065 airplanes.

July’s data means that, counting formal cancellations and removals due to failure to meet accounting standards, Boeing’s overall order tally shrunk this year by 836 airplanes, reducing its total firm order backlog to 4,496 airplanes.

In contrast, Airbus’ order tally after cancellations grew by 302 aircraft this year, increasing its total firm backlog to 7,539 airplanes.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Release from TC

Transport Canada to conduct flight test for Boeing 737 MAX next week

News from Reuters – link to story

Allison Lampert, David Shepardson

MONTREAL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Transport Canada plans to conduct flight test activities for the validation of Boeing Co’s (BA.N) grounded 737 MAX next week, the regulator told Reuters on Thursday, as part of global efforts to return the plane to service following two fatal crashes involving the model.

Transport Canada is said to be the first non-U.S. regulator to conduct such activities, following test flights performed earlier this summer by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which is tasked with certifying the aircraft.

Canada’s tests will be held at the U.S. planemaker’s facilities in Washington State, according to two sources.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) does not currently have a schedule for such tests, a spokeswoman said.

Foreign regulators have been scrutinizing proposed software changes and training revisions for the MAX, which may only return to service in 2021.

The Canadian tests are part of the regulator’s “independent review” on whether to validate proposed changes by Boeing to the aircraft, Transport Canada said.

“These tests will validate key areas of the FAA certification,” it said.

TC said it is preparing to participate in the U.S.-led Joint Operational Evaluation Board (JOEB) which would evaluate minimum pilot training requirements with partners from Europe and Brazil. JOEB is currently planned for mid-September, according to a person briefed on the matter.

“The scheduling and participation in the JOEB is dependent on the outcomes of the current certification and validation activities,” Transport Canada said.

The FAA said “each country will make its own decision” on return to service and said “JOEB is the next milestone.”

TC said it would be “premature” to reveal details about “the design configuration, flight crew procedures and training requirements before the validation activity is complete.”

The MAX was grounded in March 2019 after two crashes killed 346 people.

Boeing stock closed up 0.18% to $169.58.

Reporting By Allison Lampert in Montreal; Additional reporting by David Shepardson in Washington D.C.; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Grant McCool

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Boeing to skirt closed border by sending 737 Max to Metro Vancouver for Canadian testing

News from Vancouver Sun – link to story

Transport Canada experts will be picked up by the 737 Max in Vancouver for tests over the U.S. rather than a pandemic trip to Seattle

Bloomberg News Bloomberg NewsKait Bolongaro, Julie Johnsson and Alan Levin Publishing date: Aug 21, 2020  •  Updated Aug 24, 2020

FILE PHOTO: Grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are seen parked in an aerial photo at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, U.S. July 1, 2019. Picture taken July 1, 2019.  REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson/File Photo Grounded Boeing 737 Mac aircraft are seen parked in an aerial photo at Boeing Field in Seattle. LINDSEY WASSON / REUTERS

Boeing and Transport Canada have worked out a novel way to skirt closed borders so that the Canadian aviation regulator can run its own tests of revamped flight-control software on the grounded 737 Max.

Transport Canada is one of many aviation regulators around the world who need to approve the return of the aircraft after it had been pulled from commercial service more than a year ago after a flight control issue on the new jet caused two fatal crashes.


In a break with custom prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, Boeing will fly a Max over the border to Metro Vancouver early next week rather than basing all the test activity in Seattle. Flight testing will take place in U.S. airspace, with the aircraft then returning to B.C. to drop off Transport Canada experts, the regulator said in an email Friday.

The regulator would not say which airport in the Lower Mainland will be used by the Boeing aircraft, citing security concerns.

“Mitigation measures due to COVID-19 have been established for the validation activities, including flight tests to ensure the health and safety of Transport Canada employees,” said Sau Sau Liu, a communications adviser to Transport Canada.

The Canadian agency’s several days of test flights will be the first by an international regulator after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration put the Max through days of rigorous testing earlier this summer.

Travel restrictions have complicated Boeing’s efforts to work with regulators at home and abroad to certify the Max to resume commercial service. The aircraft was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two deadly crashes killed 346 people.

Transport Canada employees will also be flown to Seattle to conduct separate evaluations on a Boeing-run engineering simulator and then back to Vancouver. The agency is conducting the tests after completing its review of data from the FAA flights.

Boeing completed its first round of certification test flights, which were conducted with U.S. regulators, on July 1. Because the plane is built in the U.S., the FAA is taking the lead on certifying the plane.

After reviewing the results of the flights and Boeing’s detailed plan for revising systems on the plane, the FAA on Aug. 3 said it has tentatively approved the fixes. The public was given 45 days to comment on the proposed changes, meaning the agency could sign off on the return sometime in the fall.

In addition to changes to the plane’s computer systems and wiring, the FAA and regulators in other nations are also in the process of reviewing revisions to pilot training programs for the plane.

The FAA “continues to review Boeing’s proposed changes as part of the ongoing certification work,” according to a statement by the U.S. agency.


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The regulator would not say which airport in the Lower Mainland will be used by the Boeing aircraft, citing security concerns.

Curious, other than YXX and YVR, are there any other lower mainland airports that are long enough to allow the operation of a very lightly loaded 737?

Perhaps Boundary Bay 



Runway Data

  • Rwy 07/25 5606 ft x 100 ft asphalt
  • Rwy 13/31 5605 ft x 100 ft asphalt
  • RNAV (GNSS) Approach 07
  • VOR Approach 07 (GNNS)
  • RNAV Approach 31
  • PAPI Approach 07


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26 minutes ago, Don Hudson said:

In addition to what I would consider "marginal" lengths to operate an B737-800 off of & into, Boundary Bay may have taxi and/or runway weight limitations. Both YXX & YVR as well as YLW are suitable, though.

Thanks , the reason I asked was because of the lower mainland mention. I think that Boundary bay was ex military so maybe .......  

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The plan that tests would be conducted over the U.S. makes either Moses Lake area out of YLW or offshore over the U.S. 200-mile limit out of YVR/YXX likely. Logistics are a bit more complicated if YLW in terms of picking up/dropping personnel.

I wish Boeing and certainly the crew and all personnel involved with this work well. It's tough being the lesson for everyone else.

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Boeing Max breakthrough has Europe tests taking place in Canada

From BNN Bloomberg – link to story

Siddharth Philip, Bloomberg News – 27 August 2020


Boeing Co.’s grounded 737 Max jet took a major step toward a return to flying after Europe’s air-safety regulator said it would send pilots to Canada to conduct test flights, overcoming COVID-19-related travel curbs.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency will carry out the certification flights from Vancouver in the week of Sept. 7, EASA said Thursday. The tests will be preceded by simulator sessions in the U.K. this coming week.

The breakthrough gets around health-related U.S. travel restrictions that have frustrated efforts to assess Boeing’s fixes to the Max, which was idled worldwide after two deadly crashes. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration conducted certification flights two months ago, followed by Canada this week.

“While Boeing still has some final actions to close off, EASA judges the overall maturity of the re-design process is now sufficient to proceed to flight tests,” the agency said in a statement, adding that the step is a “prerequisite” for it to approve the Max’s new design.

Boeing shares rose as much as 5.5 per cent, and were up 3.2 per cent at US$177.46 as of 10:14 a.m. in New York. They had dropped 47 per cent this year through Wednesday, the sharpest decline on the Dow Jones Industrial Average.

Travel restrictions have complicated Boeing’s efforts to work with regulators at home and abroad to certify the Max to resume commercial service.

Transport Canada’s flight-test team is traveling to and from Seattle each day to conduct validation tests in U.S. airspace. Unlike that process, EASA’s flights will begin in Vancouver, the European agency said.

With the three authorities’ individual tests out of the way, a set of collective examinations related to training requirements — known as a Joint Operations Evaluation Board — is set to take place at Gatwick airport south of London in the week beginning Sept. 14.

“Provided all goes well, fears that there could be a long lag between certification in the U.S. and the rest of the world are proving unfounded,” said Richard Aboulafia, an analyst at Teal Group in Fairfax, Virginia. “Things are moving in the right direction and a return to service late this year is still conceivable.”

The Max, the latest version of Boeing’s workhorse 737 series, was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after the two crashes killed 346 people.

After reviewing the results of the flights and Boeing’s detailed plan for revising systems blamed for the tragedies, the FAA on Aug. 3 said it had tentatively approved the fixes.

The public were given 45 days to comment on the proposed changes, meaning the agency could sign off on the return sometime in the fall.

In addition to changes to the plane’s computer systems and wiring, the FAA and regulators in other nations are reviewing revisions to pilot training programs.

–With assistance from Julie Johnsson.

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No safety OK for Max 8 aircraft until all issues resolved, Garneau says
 2 hrs ago
OTTAWA — Transport Minister Marc Garneau says Boeing's Max 8 aircraft won't be allowed to fly in Canadian skies until officials believe all safety concerns have been addressed.

He said in a statement Friday that Transport Canada will work with its American, European and Brazilian counterparts before giving the aircraft a stamp of approval.

Transport Canada officials took part in test flights of the 737 Max 8 aircraft in recent days and are analyzing the results before giving the thumbs-up to proposed changes to the aircraft.

Now, the plane will be further tested in Vancouver starting Sept. 7 under an agreement between Boeing, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration and Europe's aviation safety regulator.

With a new round of test flights about to start, Garneau said he still expects the FAA and the company to prove the aircraft is safe.

Canada closed its skies to the Boeing aircraft after an Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed in March 2019, killing all 157 people on board, including 18 Canadians.

The crash, six minutes after takeoff from Addis Ababa, was eerily similar to one five months earlier when a Lion Air flight went down after takeoff from Jakarta, Indonesia.

"Transport Canada will not lift the flight restrictions on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 until the department is fully satisfied that all safety concerns have been addressed by the manufacturer and the FAA, and that enhanced flight crew procedures and training are in place," Garneau said.

From Sunday to Tuesday this week, a Transport Canada test crew were flown daily between Seattle and Vancouver to evaluate the engineering simulator at the Boeing facility. Test flights over American airspace then took place on Wednesday and Thursday.

Transport Canada said that mitigation measures were put in place to prevent the crew from contracting the novel coronavirus which causes COVID-19.

Officials are analyzing the results and expect to complete their review this fall, at which time they'll work with international counterparts to set minimum training requirements for the Max 8 to return to service.

The loss of the plane last year forced Air Canada and WestJet to cancel some routes and lease less fuel-efficient aircraft. Boeing also said it was putting a halt on production.

The EU Aviation Safety Agency said Thursday that Boeing still has some final issues to deal with on the aircraft, but the plane was ready for flight tests needed before the European body could approve the aircraft’s new design.

It said the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench into testing plans because of travel restrictions between the United States and Europe, which were resolved by holding test flights in Vancouver.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 28, 2020.

The Canadian Press

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Statement on Transport Canada’s validation tests of updated Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft

August 28, 2020            Ottawa, Ontario             Transport Canada


“The Government of Canada remains committed to keeping Canadians, the travelling public, and the transportation system safe and secure.

“Transport Canada continues to work extensively with the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and civil aviation authorities in Europe and Brazil throughout the validation process of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

“Transport Canada will not lift the flight restrictions on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 until the department is fully satisfied that all safety concerns have been addressed by the manufacturer and the FAA, and that enhanced flight crew procedures and training are in place.”

Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau

Background information

Transport Canada has successfully completed a series of flight test activities of the updated aircraft as part of the validation process. From August 23 to 25, 2020, Transport Canada’s flight test crew were flown to Seattle, Washington, to conduct evaluations on the engineering simulator at the Boeing facility and then at the end of the each test day, were flown back to Vancouver.

The flight test evaluations took place on August 26 and 27 in U.S. airspace using the Boeing test aircraft.

Mitigation measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic were established for the validation activities, including the flight tests, to ensure the health and safety of Transport Canada employees.

Canada is the first international regulator to complete validation testing activities of the aircraft. Transport Canada is now analyzing the results of these tests. Transport Canada will determine, through its own independent review, whether to validate the proposed changes.

This fall, once our analysis is completed, Transport Canada will participate in a Joint Operational Evaluation Board, which is made up of representatives from global certification authorities. The results of the Board will be used to establish the minimum training requirements for the return to service of the 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Test flights for redesigned Boeing 737 MAX begin in Vancouver

From CBC News – link to story

Jet arrived at YVR on Tuesday for flights conducted by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency

CBC News · Posted: Sep 09, 2020

boeing-737-max.JPG A Boeing 737 MAX 8 is pictured arriving at Vancouver International Airport on Tuesday to begin test flights. (Ben Nelms/CBC)

A Boeing 737 MAX jet has returned to the skies over Vancouver this week as part of an effort to determine if it’s safe for the model to begincarrying passengers again after two fatal crashes.

A 737 MAX landed at Vancouver International Airport on Tuesday to be used in test flights conducted by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, agency spokesperson Jagello Fayl told CBC in an email.

“We have been working steadily, in close cooperation with the FAA [U.S. Federal Aviation Administration] and Boeing, to return the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to service as soon as possible, but only once we are convinced it is safe,” Fayl wrote.

“While Boeing still has some final actions to close off, we judge the overall maturity of the redesign process to be sufficient to proceed to flight tests.”

Vancouver was chosen as the site for the test flights because of COVID-19 travel restrictions between Europe and the U.S.

The MAX was grounded in March 2019 after two crashes killed 346 people. 

An Ethiopian Airlines flight crashed outside the capital Addis Ababa killing all 157 people onboard. Five months earlier, a MAX owned by Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea after taking off from Jakarta, killing 189 people. 

In both crashes, investigators found faulty sensors activated the plane’s automated anti-stall system, known as MCAS, that repeatedly pushed the jetliner’s nose down. Pilots tried to fight the system, but eventually lost control.

Foreign regulators have been scrutinizing proposed software changes and training revisions for the aircraft, which may only return to service in 2021.

Transport Canada began performing test flights in August at Boeing’s facilities in Washington state as part of an “independent review” on whether to validate Boeing’s proposed changes.

The FAA, which is tasked with certifying the aircraft, began test flights earlier this summer.

With files from Reuters

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Regulators to examine pilot training for Boeing 737 Max jets

The review will include aviation officials and pilots from the U.S., Canada, Brazil and the European Union

September 12, 2020  by The Associated Press

Aviation regulators and pilots from several countries will begin next week reviewing Boeing’s proposal for training pilots to fly the revamped 737 Max, a sign that the grounded plane is moving closer to returning to service.

The Federal Aviation Administration said Sept. 11 that the review will start Sept. 14 at London’s Gatwick Airport and last about nine days. The review will include aviation officials and pilots from the United States, Canada, Brazil and the European Union.

The FAA said several other steps remain before the plane can resume flying, including a review to make sure Boeing’s changes comply with safety regulations.

Boeing changed computers and flight software on the Max after an automated anti-stall system pushed down the noses of two jets before they crashed in Indonesia and Ethiopia, killing 346 people. Max planes have been grounded worldwide since March 2019.

U.S. safety investigators who reviewed the two crashes recommended that Boeing reconsider assumptions it made about how quickly pilots can respond during an emergency.

A spokesman for Chicago-based Boeing said the company expects to win regulatory approval to resume shipping new Max jets in the fourth quarter. It could take longer before airlines resume using the plane because of maintenance and pilot-training requirements.

Earlier Sept. 11, Europe’s flight safety authority said the first flight tests for the Max were completed.

Separately, congressional scrutiny of FAA’s original approval of the Max is about to increase. A Senate committee plans to vote next week on a bill that would impose new restrictions on the FAA’s use of employees of aircraft makers like Boeing to make safety certifications about their own planes.

Congressional aides say if the measure had been in effect at the time, it would have required FAA to examine the Max and its flight-control system more thoroughly by deeming it a new plane and not simply an update to the Boeing 737, which began flying in the 1960s.

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Boeing defends decisions on development of 737 MAX cockpit system tied to fatal crashes

By David Shepardson and Tracy Rucinski Reuters
Posted September 13, 2020 9:18 am
 Updated September 13, 2020 9:19 am
2:14Future of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft remains uncertain
WATCH: Future of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft remains uncertain  https://globalnews.ca/news/7332041/boeing-execs-defend-737-max/

Two senior Boeing Co executives who oversaw the development of the 737 MAX defended the company’s decisions on a key cockpit system later tied to two fatal crashes, according to testimony before congressional investigators seen by Reuters.

Michael Teal, then 737 MAX chief product engineer, and Keith Leverkuhn, who was vice president and general manager of the 737 MAX program, were questioned separately by investigators for the U.S. House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee in May.

“I don’t consider the development of the airplane to be a failure,” Leverkuhn told investigators for the House panel that is to release a final report next week on its investigation into the development of the plane, grounded since March 2019 after two crashes killed 346 people.

Leverkuhn defended the decision to tie a new safety system on the MAX, called MCAS, to a single sensor that has been implicated in both fatal crashes. Boeing has since agreed to use data from two separate sensors when the plane returns to service, which could come as early as this year.

“I think based upon our understanding and our assumptions of flight crew actions, that it wasn’t a mistake,” Leverkuhn said.

Later in his testimony, Leverkuhn added, “Clearly what was in error was our assumptions regarding the human machine interaction. Because the process relied on the industry standard of pilot reaction to a particular failure. And what was clear post accidents was that assumption was incorrect.”


Congressional investigators also questioned testimony that Boeing had never conducted an internal financial analysis to determine the impact of whether the Federal Aviation Administration would require more expensive simulator training.

0:55FAA warns thousands of Boeing 737 planes at risk of engine failure

FAA warns thousands of Boeing 737 planes at risk of engine failure

Teal said that if the 737 MAX design warranted simulator training, Boeing would have created it, while acknowledging that customers may have been disappointed.


“Would airlines have been pleased with that, of course they would not have,” he said, noting that Boeing had signalled all along that simulator training would not be necessary.

Last year, Boeing confirmed it had agreed to pay Southwest Airlines Co a $1 million per MAX rebate if the training were required.

In January, Boeing reversed course and said it would recommend simulator training for all pilots before the MAX returns to service.

Teal, now the 777X chief project engineer, said the plane-maker has since revised some pilot assumptions in the aftermath of the 737 MAX crashes. “It’s a learning that we are now putting forth on the new aircraft,” he said.

The interviews show both executives were unaware of some key details about MCAS and other MAX features during development.

Boeing said Sunday the pair supervised the work of hundreds of engineers “and could not have been, involved in every design decision and necessarily relied on engineering specialists to perform the detailed design and certification work associated with individual systems.”

Boeing confirmed Leverkuhn retired earlier this year as he had long planned.

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