Independent review of Boeing 737 Max finds design changes 'safe'

Dozens of grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are parked at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, on July 1, 2019. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON • A panel of government flight-safety experts concluded that Boeing's redesign of its grounded 737 Max jetliner complies with regulations and is "safe", according to an update to US lawmakers.

The Technical Advisory Board (TAB), created after Boeing's best-selling jet was grounded following two fatal crashes, has presented its preliminary report to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the agency told Congress last Friday.

"The TAB presented its preliminary report to the FAA, detailing their finding that the MCAS design changes are compliant with the regulations and safe," according to the summary.

The group made unspecified suggestions of actions that Boeing and FAA should complete before the plane returns to flight, according to the summary.

The TAB is also recommending "additional future activity" and FAA has agreed, according to the summary.

The TAB was set up after the 737 Max was grounded worldwide on March 13, following the second fatal crash linked to a flight-safety system that malfunctioned.

The crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people.

The TAB is made up of aviation experts from the US Air Force, the Volpe National Transportation Systems Centre, Nasa and the FAA.

Boeing said it is hoping to complete a package of proposed fixes to the jet before the end of the year. It is then subject to approval by the FAA and other regulators around the world. The FAA's update to Congress is the first public indication of the TAB's findings.

"The TAB identified several items that need to be completed prior to return to service, including final data submittals and document revisions," the FAA said in its summary to Congress.

The items were not identified in the FAA document. In its summary to Congress, the FAA said it is still in the process of determining the amount of training pilots on the plane will need before it returns to service.

An FAA pilot group, as well as a Joint Operations Evaluation Board made up of representatives from the FAA, Europe, Brazil and Canada, will evaluate the need for training, according to the summary.

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on November 10, 2019, with the headline Independent review of Boeing 737 Max finds design changes 'safe'. Subscribe