FAA clears Boeing 737 Max 8 for takeoff, Indian DGCA confidence low at the moment

By : |November 20, 2020 0

Regulator FAA has cleared Boeing 737 MAX to fly again. This comes 20 months after the fleet grounded globally following two fatal crashes. Critics have said that FAA was “too close” to Boeing having an apparent conflict in interest. But that being said, the 737 MAX will be able to rejoin airline fleets as soon as it completes all the tasks in the Aircraft Maintenance Manual (AMM) regarding returning the aircraft from storage. Additionally, it will install new software to change the architecture of the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

The shares of budget carrier SpiceJet soared over 15% on Thursday after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the US cleared Boeing 737 Max aircraft to resume flying; nearly two years after its ban post two fatal crashes. Is it safe? That question looms. But the American aviation regulator said that globally, regulators have shown confidence in Boeing’s design changes. Together with the changes to crew procedures and training enhancements, they might validate the aircraft as safe to fly in their respective countries and regions.

The FAA also said the action to unban it, does not allow the MAX to return immediately to the skies. It will also approve 737 MAX pilot training program revisions for each US airline operating the MAX aircraft and will retain its authority to issue airworthiness certificates.

‘Too soon’ to let Boeing 737 MAX fly again?

Two years ago, the plane operated, then under Indonesia’s Lion Air plunged into the Java Sea. It killed all 189 on board. The 737 MAX crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people within five months in 2018 and 2019. It then triggered a hailstorm of investigations, frayed the US leadership in global aviation. It also cost Boeing some $20 billion.

Boeing 737 Max planes are said to be fuel-efficient and help in reducing operational costs. But we must know, that in both MAX crashes pilots lost control of the MAX when a sensor in its flight control system malfunctioned and relentlessly pushed the nose of the plane downward.

So, one, there was no backup sensor and second, pilots weren’t adequately trained on the flight control system and couldn’t counteract quickly enough. Now, Boeing has made software changes. This includes ones that limit the system’s capability to push the plane’s nose down, and the FAA has conducted a series of certification test flights of the MAX.

The families in comments to ET stated that the flight renewal authority came sooner than their compensation. “We’ve done everything humanly possible to make sure” these types of crashes do not happen again, Steve Dickson, FAA Administrator told Reuters. He even added that he felt “100% confident” in the plane’s safety.

But 20-months in the ban, the flight takes off too soon. It is insensitive to families who lost their loved ones.

India’s role in the deal

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) is studying the order. “We will study and react,” said a senior DGCA official to PTI. The MAX doesn’t have much presence in India. Only two Indian carriers — SpiceJet and Jet Airways — were operating Max aircraft before they were grounded on safety concerns. SpiceJet has a fleet of 13 such planes and had also ordered 205 MAX.

Customer confidence is low at the moment, and it’s not just because of the aircraft. The COVID-19 induced lockdown and travel restrictions will play a huge role in the aviation industry now.

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