Getting the Boeing 737 Max back to the skies is one thing, but restoring flyers' faith in regulators is another. Global cohesion would certainly help, but that seems a long way off.
Global aviation regulators have yet to formulate a unified approach to getting the grounded Boeing Co. 737 Max airliner back into service after two fatal crashes, a division that risks undermining public trust in the industry’s safety record, according to Alexandre de Juniac, the head of the IATA association of global airlines.
“The point on which we have to pay attention is for the regulators to be aligned,” de Juniac said in an interview with Bloomberg TV in Berlin. “Otherwise the certification process will be broken, will be fragmented, and we have built our safety record on the unanimity and reciprocity of the certification process.”
The grounding of the popular Boeing single-aisle model in May occurred in a piecemeal fashion, with the Chinese regulator banning the plane first and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, typically the pacesetter for aviation matters around the globe, following only a few days later. Authorities also differ on the certification process to getting the 737 Max back into service, which Boeing has said it hopes to occur around the end of the year.
Boeing is working with regulators to sign off on a fix to flight-automation software that was involved in both disasters and has said it’s aiming for FAA approval to return the plane to the skies by year-end. While the FAA is expected to wrap up its review at some point this winter, regulators in Europe and China intend to offer their own assessments of the safety of the plane before allowing it to fly in their airspace.
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Photo credit: Boeing 737 MAX airplanes are stored in an area adjacent to Boeing Field. Stephen Brashear / Getty Images