FAA Administrator: Boeing 737 MAX won’t fly in 2019

Dec 11, 2019

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Boeing’s beleaguered 737 MAX is already off U.S. airline schedules into 2020, and now the head of the Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed that it will not be cleared to fly by his agency before the year is out.

In an interview with CNBC ahead of a hearing on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, Steve Dickson, the FAA administrator, said that there are too many steps involved in re-certifying the plane for the whole process to be completed in 2019.

“There are a number of processes — milestones that have to be completed,” he said. “If you just do the math, it’s going to extend into 2020.”

During his testimony before the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee later in the day, he further underscored that point.

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“I am not going to sign off on this aircraft until all FAA technical reviews are complete, I fly it myself using my experience as an Air Force and commercial pilot, and I am satisfied that I would put my own family on it without a second thought,” he said.

Lawmakers had convened two panels of experts to testify about safety issues around the 737 MAX on Wednesday, but also asked questions about Boeing’s production practices and the role of foreign regulators in certifying commercial airplanes.

The 737 MAX has been grounded since March, following two fatal crashes in five months that left 346 dead.

Boeing, regulators and airlines at first assumed the grounding would be brief, but a fix to the automated flight control software expected of contributing to both crashes has proven more complicated than initially expected.

As the grounding has persisted, airlines have had to continually revise their schedules throughout 2019, pushing the 737 MAX’s return to service back each time. American, Southwest and United all now expect the plane to remain off their routes into at least March of 2020.

Related: See All of TPG’s Boeing Coverage

Featured photo by Stephen Brashear/Getty Images.

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