FAA lays out action plan to unground Max 8 planes

Cayman Airways has three Max 8 planes and a fourth one on order.

Max 8 plane leaves Cayman for a Boeing Facility in California last Tuesday: - Photo: Paul Tibbetts

The Federal Aviation Administration has laid out a multi-step action plan it intends to complete before giving the green light for Boeing’s 737 Max 8s to return to the skies.

It includes test flights conducted on 29 June, some 15 months after the planes were grounded worldwide following two crashes that claimed the lives of 346 people.

According to the FAA, the flights included a “wide array of flight manoeuvres and emergency procedures to assess whether the changes meet FAA certification standards”.

The action plan includes seven steps. The first is a review which will be conducted by the FAA’s Flight Standardization Board and the Joint Operations Evaluation Board, comprised of partners from Canada, Europe and Brazil. The review will focus on the pilot training requirements. The review’s findings will then be published and made available for public comment.

The second step will see a final report published that includes feedback from the public.

Boeing is also expected to submit its own report to the FAA, which will be reviewed in the third step of the process.

The fourth step will see the FAA issuing an international advisory that outlines any significant pending safety concerns, along with an airworthiness directive that will address the “known issues for grounding”.

That airworthiness directive will be addressed primarily to Max 8 operators, such as Cayman Airways which currently has three Max 8 planes and a fourth one on order. The directive will include any required corrective actions the operates will have to complete before the planes can be ungrounded.

The Cayman Compass reached out to Cayman Airways for a response to the action plan but did not receive a response.

Once the operators have made those corrections, the fifth step of ungrounding the planes will be done.

The FAA said an additional two safety steps will be conducted to maintain the airworthiness of the planes. Those steps are an in-person performance review of each new 737 Max airplane that will result in the plane being issued a certificate of airworthiness. The second additional step will be the review and approval of training programmes for the operators.

No timeline was given; instead, the FAA said in a statement, “The agency is following a deliberate process and will take the time it needs to thoroughly review Boeing’s work.”

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