As Boeing tests and finds new software glitches in the workings of its 737 Max model, a formidable airline group is asking for coordination in cross national regulations before the beleaguered aircraft is allowed to return to service.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) urged state aviation safety regulators to continue to align on technical validation requirements and timelines for the safe re-entry into service of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The announcement came at the conclusion of the second Boeing 737 MAX Summit organized by IATA.
“The Boeing 737 MAX tragedies weigh heavily on an industry that holds safety as its top priority. We trust the Federal Aviation Administration, in its role as the certifying regulator, to ensure the aircraft’s safe return to service. And we respect the duty of regulators around the world to make independent decisions on FAA’s recommendations,” said Alexandre de Juniac, IATA’s Director General and CEO.
“At the same time, aviation is a globally integrated system that relies on global standards, including mutual recognition, trust, and reciprocity among safety regulators. This harmonized structure has worked successfully for decades to help make air travel the safest form of long distance travel the world has known. Aviation cannot function efficiently without this coordinated effort, and restoring public confidence demands it,” said de Juniac. reiterating the need for alignment on additional training requirements for Boeing 737 MAX flight crew.
Meanwhile, on Wednesday, news broke of a fault in a software patch system during a flight test of the Max 8. The fault was identified by the FAA during an evaluation of the Max’s MCAS system that is used to control the pitch of the plane.
In the wake of this breaking news, Southwest Airlines said Thursday that it would extend its grounding plans for its 34 Max 8 jets through Oct. 1. The company – the fourth biggest domestic carrier by revenue – has some 250 more of these planes on order. With those numbers, the airline stands to own the largest fleet of Max 8s in the world. United Airlines also announced plans for delaying its Max 8 operations.
IATA is attempting to mend the rift between regulators caused by the criteria for grounding. Representatives from more than 40 airlines, safety regulatory authorities, original equipment manufacturers, training organizations, aviation-related associations and aircraft lessors attended the second Boeing 737 MAX Summit in Montreal last week.