The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief, Steve Dickson has set out the milestones that must be passed before the Boeing 737 Max can be returned to service.
Flight Global reported Dickson to have said, “The certification flight test, and then the evaluation of the certification flight, is really the next major milestone.”
Dickson, who made this known during a briefing at the Singapore air show also noted, “That’s FAA pilots evaluating the compliance of the final software to FAA Transport Category aircraft regulations.”
However, the flight test has not yet been scheduled. “We still have a few issues to resolve, but we are continuing to narrow the issues,” he says. “We are waiting for proposals from Boeing on a few items to be able to clear the way to that flight.”
Elaborating on matters to be resolved, Dickson mentions an issue with the “stab out of trim” light, noting: “It’s not a problem with the software per se, but this light that’s been on the airplane forever tends to flicker when the trim is running very quickly… It’s coming on at inappropriate times – it’s essentially getting overloaded with data we think. They’ll have to buffer that a little bit.”
He adds: “We’ll be addressing that, evaluating that. That’s a matter of a few days.”
In reference to a separate issue with wire bundles on the Max, Dickson says: “Boeing has not yet given us a proposal on that. We’ll see to what extent those issues are common with the 737NG.”
Once the certification flight has been completed and the data analysed “within a few days”, operational validation will proceed. Boeing has made a pilot-training proposal, which the FAA will evaluate, says Dickson – himself a pilot.
“My deputy Dan Elwell is going to complete the training in conjunction with this. I’m also going to complete it subsequently before I fly the airplane,” Dickson said.
But he added: “We don’t want to have our thumb on the scale. We’ve got international crews and US crews coming in to evaluate those proposals. Thus will it be determined whether any modifications are required.
“It’s not a matter of us at this point accepting the Boeing proposal or not,” Dickson stressed. “We have a process to run that will give us the answer.”
That process will take nine to 10 days, Dickson said. An amendment will then be made to the Flight Standardization Board (FSB) report – which will take “a few days” – and this will then be put out for public comment for 15 days.