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A return to the skies: Boeing 737 Max training review to begin after it completes test flights

Suban Abdulla
·3-min read
Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are stored in an area adjacent to Boeing Field, on June 27, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. After a pair of crashes, the 737 MAX has been grounded by the FAA and other aviation agencies since March, 13, 2019. Photo: Stephen Brashear/Getty
Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are stored in an area adjacent to Boeing Field, on June 27, 2019 in Seattle, Washington. After a pair of crashes, the 737 MAX has been grounded by the FAA and other aviation agencies since March, 13, 2019. Photo: Stephen Brashear/Getty

A review for the grounded Boeing (BA) 737 Max jetliner, will kick off on Monday in London, the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has announced.

The Joint Operations Evaluation Board is due to meet for around nine days and will take place at Gatwick airport, to review how pilots react to the updated aircraft.

The multi-agency effort will see civil aviation authorities and airline flight crews from the US, EU, Canada and Brazil “review Boeing’s proposed training” for 737 Max flight crews.

Once the nine-day review is finalised, the FAA plans to “incorporate the findings” into the draft FAA Flight Standardisation Board report, which will be made available for public comment.

However, there are a few steps to complete before we can expect to see any 737 Max planes return to the skies.

First, Steve Dickson, FAA’s administrator will undergo recommended training and evaluate flights at the controls of a Boeing 737 MAX, he will share his findings with FAA technical staff.

Then FAA will conduct a review into Boeing’s (BA) final design documentation to see whether it complies with the agency’s regulations. The multi-agency technical advisory board will first review Boeing’s submission, before the FAA reaches a decision on compliance.

Finally, the US aviation authority will issue a notice of significant safety actions and publish a final order addressing known issues for grounding. FAA will also advise operators of required corrective actions before it can re-enter commercial service.

In an overhaul, FAA will retain authority to issue airworthiness and export certificates for all 737 Max aircrafts manufactured since the grounding and it will also perform in-person, individual reviews.

READ MORE: ‘Designed by clowns, supervised by monkeys’: Damning Boeing emails published

It comes as the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) conducted test flights this week of the aircraft, ahead of its possible recertification and eventual return to services.

While EASA has not specified how many flights it testes or the scenarios, it did reveal that the test flights took place in Vancouver due to COVID-19 related travel restrictions. Canada has also conducted its own tests.

“As the next step in its evaluation of the aircraft for return to service, EASA is now analysing the data and other information gathered during the flights,” EASA said in a statement. The decision will likely take a few weeks.

The 737 Max has been grounded globally since March 2019, following two fatal crashes that took the lives of 346 people.

Following the grounding of the jetliner, the company swung to a $636m (£498m) annual loss in January 2020 — its first loss in more than 20 years — Boeing put the total costs of the grounding at $19bn.

Boeing suspended new deliveries of the plane, following the biggest crisis in its 103-history. The US manufacturing giant also set aside a further $9.2bn to cover the costs of airlines that cancelled 737 Max flights and towards higher higher costs related to compensation.

The crisis, led to the firing of chief executive Dennis Muilenburg, caused layoffs at suppliers and put Boeing behind rival Aribus (AIR.PA) in sales and deliveries of new jetliners.