During testimony before the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson pledged that before he would sign off on allowing the Boeing 737 MAX to return to the skies after two fatal air crashes, he would fly the aircraft himself. He said he would have to be willing to put his family aboard, without a second thought, before the grounding was lifted.
True to his word, Dickson, a former military and commercial pilot, traveled to Seattle early this week. After completing the revised pilot training protocols and a flight simulator session, he personally piloted the new 737 MAX 8.
He flew for two hours and, upon landing, appeared to feel positive about his experience with flying the revised plane. However, he said he was not ready to give the jet an “all clear.”
“My flight today, and the training that I undertook, gives me an excellent baseline as an aviator to be able to understand the systems and how they are being utilized on the flight deck and how the plane performs,” Dickson said. “It has been a productive, constructive week, and I liked what I saw on the flight this morning. But we’re not to the point yet where we have completed the process.”
“The FAA and I in particular, will not approve the plane for return to passenger service until I’m satisfied that we’ve adequately addressed all of the known safety issues that played a role in the tragic loss of 346 lives aboard Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302.” Dickson continued. “Not a day goes by that I and my colleagues don’t think about the victims and their families.”
To add to the saga of the 737 MAX, the U.S. House of Representatives recently approved legislation to reform the FAA’s aircraft certification process. The new bill includes recommendations that emerged following the investigations of both the Boeing 737 MAX crashes, as well as the processes of the plane’s design and certification process.
Dickson gave no firm timeline of when the 737 MAX could return to the skies.
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This post first appeared on Your Mileage May Vary