New York (AFP)
The aircraft manufacturer Boeing is still hoping for a return to service this year of the 737 MAX, even though it has still not presented to the regulators the changes required for lifting the ban on theft of its flagship aircraft after two fatal accidents.
"The decision is up to the regulators, but we're still working for a return to service in the fourth quarter of this year," AFP spokesperson Gordon Johndroe told AFP.
"Boeing still has not submitted the final version of the software (MCAS) for certification," said the Federal Aviation Agency (FAA), the US air regulator, referring to the anti-stall system implicated in the accidents of Lion Air in October 2018 and Ethiopian Airlines in March of this year, which caused 346 deaths.
Therefore, "we still have no timetable for the return to service," added the regulator of the air, which is responsible for lifting the ban on the 737 MAX, which would send a signal to other civil aviation authorities around the world.
To put the 737 MAX back into service, Boeing was asked to make modifications to the MCAS, which can abruptly put the aircraft in "nose-down" when it is activated. This happened on flights 302 from Ethiopian on March 10th and 610 from Lion Air on October 29th, 2018.
- Waiting for the CEO -
The manufacturer must then submit them to the regulators, in this case to the FAA, who must then schedule a test flight, determining the final green light.
Dennis Muilenburg, the CEO, should probably give indications on the final calendar during a planned intervention in New York this Wednesday around 16:00 GMT.
The optimism displayed by Boeing contrasts with the recent increase in facts that has pushed a number of experts to say that the 737 MAX was far from returning to the world sky this year.
The US transport regulator, the NTSB, said in a report last week that Boeing and the FAA had misjudged the pilots' response to flight alerts in the event of MCAS malfunction and recommended changes in the certification process. aircraft in the United States.
But Boeing is undoubtedly supported by positive feedback from the pilots of the three US airlines MAX customers on the changes made in the aircraft.
According to sources familiar with the matter, Boeing organized last week in Miami, multiple sessions simulator tests of the new flight control system and the new MCAS software for pilots of American Airlines, Southwest and United.
At the end of these tests intended to familiarize them with the modifications made, the pilots of the three companies expressed their satisfaction, advance these sources who requested anonymity.
"Our pilots took part in the side of members of the APA," confirmed to AFP, Ross Feinstein, a spokesman for American Airlines, without further information.
The APA is the union of pilots of the American company. Since the accident on March 10 of an Ethiopian Airlines' 737 MAX, the organization has been on the front line, saying that in November 2018 it unsuccessfully called for a modification of the plane after a first accident, that of Lion. Air of October 29 of the same year.
Confirming that pilots and executives had taken part in the tests, Southwest told AFP that Boeing and the FAA expected "further guidance on next steps."
Pilot training is a priority for some civil aviation authorities, including Canada and the European Union.
Boeing neither confirmed nor denied the test, while United did not respond immediately.
American Airlines (24 737 MAX), Southwest (34) and United (14) have jostled their flight programs because of the MAX's troubles and are in talks with Boeing for compensation.
Southwest has canceled all flights on MAX until early January, while American and United hope to rely on this aircraft during the holiday season.
© 2019 AFP