Government officials aren’t always known for keeping their promises. However, in this case, it seems that a promise made will be a promise kept.
Before the aircraft returns to the skies, the FAA must sign off on all technical reviews of Boeing’s proposed safety enhancements, Administrator Dickson said during testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and the families of the victims of the Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air accidents. Dickson pledged that he will fly the aircraft himself and must be satisfied that he would put his family aboard without a second thought before the grounding order is lifted
Boeing has been working on fixes to the 737 MAX plane after two fatal crashes in 2019 grounded the airframe around the world. Even when the aircraft was still in the skies, reviews of it weren’t stellar. We were actively avoiding it before the safety issues because it wasn’t a very comfortable plane to fly on.
While the fixes to the 737 MAX won’t make it any more comfortable, I’m hopeful that the safety issues that should have been addressed before the plane was initially approved will now be fixed. I’m sure that’s why the head of the FAA, who used to be a commercial airline pilot, has said he wouldn’t approve the plane before he’s flown it.
The FAA told lawmakers that Dickson and FAA Deputy Administrator Dan Elwell “will be in Seattle next week to take the recommended training.” The flight by Dickson will fulfill “his promise to fly the aircraft before the FAA approves its return to service.”
This is a step that no other plane has needed to undergo before being cleared for service.
There’s been much reporting about how a plane with flaws as evident as those with the 737 MAX even was cleared for flight in the first place. However, it appears the FAA intends to make sure passengers have no question about the safety of the plane when it returns to the skies.
Airlines have many 737 MAX planes sitting in storage that they’d like to start flying again. The reason airlines wanted these planes in the first place was that it was a more economical option. However, there will be fewer of the aircraft in the air because many airlines have canceled their orders due to decreased demand because of the coronavirus.
Southwest Airlines, the largest purchaser of the 737 MAX, has said that it will take 30-60 days after certification to prepare its MAX aircraft and pilots to fly commercially again. Before all of the coronacrapola, United said they’d be willing to let passengers rebook flights if they were scheduled on a 737 MAX. Of course, that was before almost every airline has eliminated change fees for flights in the US.
Even with the rigorous certification process that the 737MAX has endured and a test flight from the head of the FAA, would you feel safe flying on one? Since we’re not flying anywhere right now, I don’t have to worry about things like this but eventually, I’ll have to consider it.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary