In an unusual move, the FAA test chief flies 737 Max; says more fixes needed

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“I like what I saw on the flight,” said Dickson, a former airline pilot who flew earlier versions of the 737.

“That’s not to say that I don’t have any debriefing coming,” Dickson said after his two-hour flight from Boeing Field in Seattle.

Dickson said he would like to see adjustments “not so much in the procedures, but in the narrative that describes the procedures. “

The 18-month grounding cost Boeing at least $ 18 billion. And he missed a series of target dates to get the plane approved to re-carry passengers. Before the Covid-19 pandemic, he was waiting for the plane’s approval in the middle of this year.

But the pandemic, and the resulting drop in global air travel, has led virtually all airlines to park a large percentage of their planes, reducing the need for Boeing (BA) to gain the approval of the aircraft to fly ASAP.

Crash victim criticizes theft

The daughter of Joseph Waithaka, who was killed in the crash of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, called the flight a “gimmick”.

“He’s nothing more than a clown in a costume to reassure the public that everything is fine,” Zipporah Kuria said in an email shared by his lawyer. “This is clearly a publicity stunt for the FAA and free approval for Boeing. ”

Dickson told reporters the theft was “not a publicity stunt.”

“It was important for me to understand the training and handling of the aircraft,” said Dickson, who prepared in a flight simulator and flew the actual aircraft alongside a pilot from the Boeing Company. .

He also said concerns about the safety of the aircraft raised earlier this month by the FAA’s own safety engineers were being investigated by those responsible for certifying the aircraft. Safety engineers, in a document submitted to the FAA by their union, said more work was needed before the plane was cleared for passenger flights.

Boeing wins first order for 737 Max aircraft this year

Dickson would not respond to specific concerns, saying there is “a process for responding and reviewing comments,” but that he is proud of the agency’s work to raise questions and prevent “group thinking.”

A report prepared this month by investigators with the House transport committee questioned how the agency reviewed the aircraft for safety ahead of its initial certification in 2017.

“The problem is, it was compliant but not sure, and people died,” said committee chair Peter DeFazio, an Oregon Democrat.

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