Boeing 737 MAX-10, expected to achieve airworthiness certification in 2024.

FAA Implementing New Jet Certification Standards

Nov. 29, 2023
Based on Congressional oversight that followed two 737 MAX crashes, the agency will require aircraft builders to disclose detailed safety-critical data on flight-control systems.

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is implementing new policies for commercial aircraft certification, based on Congressional legislation from 2020 that was devised to address issues linked to previous FAA standards identified as contributing to the two fatal accidents with the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft.

The updated FAA policy will be directly applied to the Boeing 737 MAX 7 and MAX 10 variants, both of which are awaiting airworthiness certification. The agency recently authorized Boeing to begin flight testing of the MAX 10, which the OEM expects to begin delivering to airline customers in 2024.

In the course of investigating the two crashes that killed a total of 346 people in October 2018 and March 2019, FAA and Boeing came under severe criticism for their conduct of the initial 737 MAX certification, which was completed in 2017. The agency had operated according to a program that allowed Boeing employees, in the place of FAA officials, to monitor and report aircraft design and performance standards.

Crash investigators concluded the 737 MAX Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) prevented the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines jet crews from overriding automated commands and establishing manual flight control, which resulted in them losing control of the aircraft.

The new standards – which follow legislation passed in 2020, after Boeing had revamped the 737 MAX design and regained its airworthiness certification – require aircraft builders to disclose certain data that FAA considers to be safety-critical, including detailed information on flight-control systems.

Investigators determined that Boeing had not fully disclosed the performance of the MCAS during the original certification process.

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