See FAA Pushes Boeing to Review Safety Documents on New 737 MAX Model – WSJ

Federal air-safety regulators have asked Boeing Co. BA -8.77%decrease; red down pointing triangle to launch a review of its safety paperwork for the 737 MAX 7, another setback for the plane maker’s push to win approval for the jet before a year-end legal deadline.

The Federal Aviation Administration is unable to review the company’s submissions “due to missing and incomplete information” related to cockpit crews’ potential reactions to catastrophic hazards, according to an Oct. 12 agency letter viewed by The Wall Street Journal. Plane makers must meet such hurdles before regulators clear jets to carry passengers.

The FAA’s request for a review covers system safety assessments for the 737 MAX 7, which is the shortest in Boeing’s family of the single-aisle jets, and which is awaiting regulatory approval to carry passengers. It comes after the agency recently said the aircraft was at risk of not being certified by a December deadline set by Congress following two fatal crashes of the 737 MAX 8, an earlier version of the jet.

 focus of air-safety legislation passed by Congress in 2020, which included the deadline, is so-called human factors engineering, which deals with how pilots respond to cockpit emergencies. The fatal 737 MAX 8 accidents involved a flawed Boeing assumption about how pilots would respond to a flight-control system’s misfire. The law would require MAX jets certified after the end of the year to receive a potentially costly and time-consuming cockpit overhaul.

Boeing said safety remains the driving factor in its effort to meet all regulatory requirements in certifying the 737 MAX 7. The company said being thorough and transparent with the FAA will continue to be a priority.

The fatal 737 MAX 8 accidents involved a flawed Boeing assumption about how pilots would respond to a flight-control system’s misfire.  PHOTO: MATT MILLS MCKNIGHT/REUTERS

The FAA said the letter speaks for itself. Acting FAA Administrator Billy Nolen said at a press conference earlier this month that the agency wouldn’t approve the 737 MAX 7 and another MAX model for passenger service until it was satisfied.

“When we’ve got all the information we need, and not until then, we’ll certificate the airplane,” Mr. Nolen said. “We are working through it very purposefully, and when we get there, we get there.”

Southwest Airlines Co. is a major buyer of the 737 MAX 7 and has been planning to add the fuel-efficient jet to its fleet and retire older planes.

Boeing Chief Executive David Calhoun said on Sept. 15 that he expected the 737 MAX 7 would be certified by the year-end deadline. FAA officials later signaled the 737 MAX 7 was at risk of not meeting the year-end deadline.

Boeing has also been working to get the longer model of the jet, the 737 MAX 10, certified by the end of the year. Mr. Calhoun has said Boeing may have to consider canceling that model without a congressional extension. United Airlines Holdings Inc. and Delta Air Lines Inc. are among that model’s buyers.

The Oct. 12 FAA letter regarding the MAX 7 was signed by Ian Won, acting manager of the agency’s Boeing oversight office. It cites examples that, he wrote, show Boeing inadequately addressing pilots’ roles in certain cockpit emergencies, such as avoiding ignition of the plane’s fuel tanks.



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