The announcement is significant, but there are still other important steps, including the finalization of pilot training procedures, which must be completed before the 737 MAX can resume flight. The public has 45 days to comment on the changes, and it’s still unclear whether flights will resume before the end of 2020.
The FAA said in a separate 96-page report released on Monday that it “had preliminary determined that Boeing’s proposed changes to the 737 MAX design, flight crew procedures and maintenance procedures effectively mitigate aircraft-related safety issues ”in both fatal crashes. The airworthiness directive is intended to require modifications from Boeing.
The FAA said the changes minimize “dependence on pilot action and the effect of any possible failure.”
The crisis over grounding the once best-selling 737 MAX has cost the U.S. automaker more than $ 19 billion, slashed production and hampered its supply chain, with criminal and congressional investigations continuing.
The FAA’s in-depth review spanned over 18 months and included the full-time work of more than 40 engineers, inspectors, pilots and technical support staff. To date, the FAA has completed more than 60,000 hours of examination, certification testing, and document evaluation.
The agency is also proposing that 737 MAX operators conduct an angle of attack (AOA) sensor system test and conduct an operational readiness flight before returning each aircraft to service. The changes are designed to prevent erroneous activation of a key system known as MCAS related to the two crashes, to alert pilots if two AOA sensors receive conflicting data, and to ensure that the flight crew can recognize and respond to erroneous stabilizer movement.
The change in wiring will ensure that the MAX meets FAA wire separation safety standards.