The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration next month will brief international aviation regulators on the agency’s work evaluating when the Boeing Co. 737 MAX can return to service, which some countries have signaled they intend to decide on their own.
The FAA called the May 23 meeting “to provide participants the FAA’s safety analysis that will inform its decision to return the 737 MAX fleet to service in the U.S. when it is made,” the agency said in a statement. Safety experts will be available to answer questions posed by the other regulators as they weigh whether to allow flights to resume in their countries, according to the FAA.
The announcement comes as the agency awaits Boeing’s formal proposal of changes to the 737 MAX intended to address what pilots encountered in two fatal crashes since October that killed 346 people.
The accidents have been linked to the 737 MAX’s Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, which automatically pushes down the jet’s nose to help prevent a stall. In both crashes, pilots struggled to keep the plane aloft after the system was activated by erroneous sensor data and ultimately pushed the planes into a fatal dive.
Aviation regulators in China, the European Union, Canada and elsewhere halted flights shortly after a 737 MAX operated by Ethiopian Airlines crashed on March 10.
The FAA initially hesitated to ground the jets, citing insufficient evidence to link the March crash to the loss of the Lion Air 737 MAX that plunged into the Java Sea last October. After getting fresh data and physical evidence showing clear similarities between the disasters — and after dozens of other countries had grounded the jet — the FAA halted flights on March 13.
Separately, the FAA on April 29 will convene a joint review of the 737 Max’s original certification with aviation authorities from eight countries, including Canada, China, Brazil plus the European Union. The so-called Joint Authorities Technical Review’s work is separate from the FAA’s analysis of Boeing’s proposed changes to the 737 MAX to determine when it can return to service, according to the agency.
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