SEATTLE, July 8 (Reuters) - The Boeing Co 737 MAX has been grounded for 15 months, following back-to-back fatal crashes that killed 346 people in a five-month span.
Here are some of the key hurdles Boeing must overcome before the 737 MAX wins regulatory approval to resume commercial service in the United States, which government and industry sources say is not likely to happen until September.
Boeing and U.S. Federal Aviation Administration pilots completed a series of test flights last week.
This week, the FAA will conduct an operational readiness review that includes another test flight assessing safety upgrades to the airplane.
Boeing must turn in to the FAA a completed package of flight test data, which could take another two or so weeks.
At some point in the coming weeks, FAA Administrator Steve Dickson and his deputy, Dan Elwell, will fly the 737 MAX to make their own safety assessments.
Sometime in late July, at the earliest, the multi-regulator Joint Operational Evaluation Board (JOEB) will run simulator exercises to evaluate proposed changes to pilot training.
Dickson, the FAA Administrator, and Elwell, his deputy, will personally complete the training proposal alongside U.S. and international crews, which will take roughly 9-10 days.
This results in an addendum to a Flight Standardisation Board (FSB) report, which in turn defines minimum training needs. The result will be put out to public comment for 15 days.
The combined JOEB and FSB process “is roughly probably 30 days from beginning to end,” barring surprises, Dickson has said previously.
If reviews of the MAX’s safety upgrades and accompanying training protocols do not raise new concerns, the FAA would issue a document called a CANIC (Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community) describing upcoming “significant safety actions”.
The FAA also publishes an Airworthiness Directive advising airlines of required corrective action and, within a day or two, the FAA would rescind the grounding order published March 2019. This marks the official ungrounding of Boeing’s best-selling jet.
Then FAA will issue certificates of airworthiness to each individual jet. In the past, this was mostly delegated to Boeing but the FAA has said it will do the work itself on the 737 MAX at first.
Airlines must meanwhile get their own individual training plans approved by their various regulators.
In the United States, armed with the FSB report, they would talk to training departments and come up with a plan that must then be approved by the FAA. (Reporting by Eric M. Johnson in Seattle, David Shepardson in Washington, and Tracy Rucinski in Chicago Editing by Alistair Bell)