Boeing has informed the FAA that certain 737NG and 737MAX leading edge slat tracks may have been improperly manufactured and may not meet all applicable regulatory requirements for strength and durability.
Following an investigation conducted by Boeing and the FAA Certificate Management Office (CMO), we have determined that up to 148 parts manufactured by a Boeing sub-tier supplier are affected. Boeing has identified groups of both 737NG and 737MAX airplane serial numbers on which these suspect parts may have been installed. 32 NG and 33 MAX are affected in the U.S. Affected worldwide fleet are 133 NG and 179 MAX aircraft.
The affected parts may be susceptible to premature failure or cracks resulting from the improper manufacturing process. Although a complete failure of a leading edge slat track would not result in the loss of the aircraft, a risk remains that a failed part could lead to aircraft damage in flight.
The FAA will issue an Airworthiness Directive to mandate Boeing's service actions to identify and remove the discrepant parts from service. Operators of affected aircraft are required to perform this action within 10 days. The FAA today also alerted international civil aviation authorities of this condition and required actions.
FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell's Closing Remarks at Directorates General Meeting
Thanks for joining us. Today’s meeting was both comprehensive and constructive. While the tragic circumstances that brought all of us together might be considered extraordinary—there is nothing extraordinary about the level of commitment to safety shared by all of us. Our sense of mission—that makes aviation the safest form of transportation—runs strong and deep, and binds all of us. If not in one meeting in Ft. Worth, we are comparing notes in symposiums around the world, we’re in web-based conferences, or we simply pick up the phone.
So, let me give you a short recap of what we covered today:
- How the FAA responded to the MAX accidents and how we’re supporting the two international accident investigations
- How we plan to certify Boeing’s MCAS changes and how we’ve been sharing information with all the regulators here.
- The latest status on the Technical Advisory Board, or TAB, which is reviewing Boeing’s MCAS software update and system safety assessment. As you know, the TAB is tasked with identifying any issues where further investigation is recommended before we approve the MCAS design change.
- Details of the Boeing’s proposed changes to the MAX – both to the flight control system and pilot training
- A review of the technical steps and sequence of events that we anticipate would be involved in ungrounding the MAX fleet here in the United States
- A discussion of international considerations for returning the MAX to service outside the United States
What happens next is that, here in the U.S., we await Boeing’s completed for changes to the MAX. Once received we perform our final risk assessments and analyses, taking into account findings of the TAB and any information we receive from our international counterparts. We’ll also take part in test flights of a modified 737 MAX and weigh all the information together before making the decision to return the aircraft to service.
Internationally, each country has to make its own decisions, but the FAA will make available to our counterparts all that we have learned, all that we have done, and all of our assistance under our International Civil Aviation Organization commitments.
As all of us work through this rigorous process, we will continue to be transparent and exchange all that we know and all that we do –to strengthen the public’s confidence that the aircraft will meet the highest safety standards.
FAA Acting Administrator Dan Elwell's Opening Remarks at Directorates General Meeting
Good afternoon and welcome to the FAA’s Southwest Regional office here in Fort Worth. As you know, tomorrow we’ll be meeting with dozens of regulators from across the globe to discuss our ongoing efforts aimed at getting the Boeing 737 MAX back into service.
We’ll be sharing with them the safety analysis that will form the basis for our return-to-service decision process here in the United States, and we’ll offer the FAA’s assistance in helping them with their individual decisions on returning the aircraft to service in their countries. We’ll also welcome their feedback to help us with our shared goal of keeping aviation’s safety record the envy of other transportation modes.
The FAA and our colleagues around the world know that the success of the global aviation system rests squarely on our shared commitment of safety and our common understanding of what it takes to achieve it. It’s because we have a common framework through the International Civil Aviation Organization for how we design, build and operate airliners.
Under that framework, The State of Design – which is the United States for the MAX – has the obligation to provide all States that operate an aircraft with the information that assures its safe operation. For the MAX, Boeing has not yet submitted its final request to change the MCAS, but we can share what information we do have to contribute to our safety evaluations.
So that’s what we’ll do tomorrow – explain our understanding of the risks that need to be addressed, the steps we propose to address those risks, and how we’ll propose to bring the 737 MAX back to service. And let me be very clear about that – the FAA will return the 737 MAX to service in the United States only when we determine based on facts and technical data that it is safe to do so.
We’ll also discuss how making the entire process transparent toward strengthening public confidence after two accidents. We all want travelers to have the highest confidence in the aviation system when they fly.
Once the meeting is completed tomorrow afternoon, we’ll brief you again on the events of the day.
I’ll take your questions now.
5/3/2019 3:00pm Update
This week, the Joint Authorities Technical Review (JATR) team held its first meeting to review the FAA’s certification of the Boeing 737 MAX’s automated flight control system. Chaired by former NTSB Chairman Christopher A. Hart, the JATR is comprised of technical safety experts from 9 civil aviation authorities worldwide, including the FAA, as well as from NASA.
The team received extensive overviews and engaged in subsequent discussions about the design, certification, regulations, compliance, training, and Organization Designation Authorization program associated with the 737 MAX. Over the next few months, JATR participants will take a comprehensive look at the FAA’s certification of the aircraft’s automated flight control system. Each participant will individually provide the FAA with findings regarding the adequacy of the certification process and any recommendations to improve the process.
The JATR is separate from and not required to approve enhancements for the return of the 737 MAX to service. The team concluded an initial, substantive week of gathering information and planning its next meetings.
5/3/2019 1:45pm Update
Supplemental FAA letter to Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman Wicker available here.
4/29/2019 12:30pm Update
The FAA has convened today’s initial Joint Authorities Technical Review (JATR) meeting as it evaluates aspects of the original certification of the Boeing 737 MAX’s automated flight control system. This gathering of international civilian aviation authorities and safety technical experts represents the best spirit of cooperation and collaboration that have contributed to aviation’s strong safety record. All participants are committed to a single safety mission, and will not rest where aviation’s safety record is concerned. We expect the JATR to engage in a free and candid discussion that exchanges information and improves future processes. Their work is not a prerequisite for the 737 MAX to return to service. The FAA will continue to share its technical experience and knowledge to support the international aviation community and, specifically over the next three months, the JATR participants.
4/19/2019 3:00pm Update
Experts from nine civil aviation authorities have confirmed they will participate in the Boeing 737 MAX Joint Authorities Technical Review (JATR) that the FAA established earlier this month. The JATR team will conduct a comprehensive review of the certification of the aircraft’s automated flight control system.
The JATR is chaired by former NTSB Chairman Chris Hart and comprised of a team of experts from the FAA, NASA and international aviation authorities. The team will evaluate aspects of the 737 MAX automated flight control system, including its design and pilots’ interaction with the system, to determine its compliance with all applicable regulations and to identify future enhancements that might be needed.
The team is scheduled to first meet on April 29 and its work is expected to take 90 days.
Confirmed participants include:
Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA)
Agencia Nacional de Aviação Civil (ANAC)
Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA)
Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC)
European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA)
Japan Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB)
Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA)
Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS)
United Arab Emirates
General Civil Aviation Authority (UAE GCAA)
4/16/2019 4:15pm Update
The FAA today posted a draft report from the Boeing 737 MAX Flight Standardization Board. The FSB reviewed only the training aspects related to software enhancements to the aircraft. The report is open to public comment for 14 days. After that, the FAA will review those comments before making a final assessment. Boeing Co. is still expected in the coming weeks to submit the final software package for certification.
4/12/19 4:20pm Update
FAA Statement on Boeing 737 MAX
The FAA convened a meeting today, April 12, at the agency’s Washington, D.C. headquarters with safety representatives of the three U.S.-based commercial airlines that have the Boeing 737 MAX in their fleets, as well as the pilot unions for those airlines.
The approximately 3-hour meeting opened with remarks from Acting Administrator Dan Elwell and covered three major agenda items: a review of the publicly available preliminary findings of the investigations into the Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines accidents; an overview of the anticipated software enhancements to the MCAS system; and, an overview of pilot training. Each presentation corresponding to the agenda, delivered by FAA subject matter experts, allowed for an open exchange between all participants.
In his opening remarks, Elwell characterized the meeting as a listening session for the FAA to hear from the participants for a fuller understanding of the safety issues presented by the Boeing 737 MAX. Elwell said that he wanted to know what operators and pilots of the 737 MAX think as the agency evaluates what needs to be done before the FAA makes a decision to return the aircraft to service. Elwell emphasized that the same level of transparency, dialog, and all available tools that have created aviation’s incomparable safety record also will apply to the FAA’s ongoing review of the aircraft’s return to service. Elwell said that the participant’s operational perspective is critical input as the agency welcomes scrutiny on how it can do better. As the meeting concluded, Elwell committed to the participants that the agency values transparency on its work toward the FAA’s decisions related to the aircraft.
4/4/19 6:10pm Update
FAA Statement on Boeing 737 MAX
FAA letter to Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee Chairman Wicker available here.
4/4/19 8:30am Update
FAA Statement on Boeing 737 MAX
The investigation by Ethiopian authorities remains ongoing, with the participation of the FAA and the NTSB. We continue to work toward a full understanding of all aspects of this accident. As we learn more about the accident and findings become available, we will take appropriate action.
4/2/19 4:00pm Update
FAA Establishes Joint Authorities Technical Review (JATR) for Boeing 737 MAX
The FAA is establishing a Joint Authorities Technical Review (JATR). Chaired by former NTSB Chairman Chris Hart and comprised of a team of experts from the FAA, NASA and international aviation authorities, the JATR will conduct a comprehensive review of the certification of the automated flight control system on the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The JATR team will evaluate aspects of the 737 MAX automated flight control system, including its design and pilots’ interaction with the system, to determine its compliance with all applicable regulations and to identify future enhancements that might be needed.
4/1/19 4:00pm Update
FAA Statement on Boeing 737 MAX Software Update
The FAA expects to receive Boeing’s final package of its software enhancement over the coming weeks for FAA approval. Time is needed for additional work by Boeing as the result of an ongoing review of the 737 MAX Flight Control System to ensure that Boeing has identified and appropriately addressed all pertinent issues. Upon receipt, the FAA will subject Boeing’s completed submission to a rigorous safety review. The FAA will not approve the software for installation until the agency is satisfied with the submission.
3/20/19 5:00pm Update
Update on FAA's Continued Operational Safety Activities Related to the Boeing 737 MAX Fleet
FAA issues new Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community on Boeing 737 MAX.
3/13/19 3:00pm Update
Statement from the FAA on Ethiopian Airlines
The FAA is ordering the temporary grounding of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft operated by U.S. airlines or in U.S. territory. The agency made this decision as a result of the data gathering process and new evidence collected at the site and analyzed today. This evidence, together with newly refined satellite data available to FAA this morning, led to this decision.
The grounding will remain in effect pending further investigation, including examination of information from the aircraft’s flight data recorders and cockpit voice recorders. An FAA team is in Ethiopia assisting the NTSB as parties to the investigation of the Flight 302 accident. The agency will continue to investigate.
3/12/19 6:10pm Update
Statement from Acting FAA Administrator Daniel K. Elwell
The FAA continues to review extensively all available data and aggregate safety performance from operators and pilots of the Boeing 737 MAX. Thus far, our review shows no systemic performance issues and provides no basis to order grounding the aircraft. Nor have other civil aviation authorities provided data to us that would warrant action. In the course of our urgent review of data on the Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crash, if any issues affecting the continued airworthiness of the aircraft are identified, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action.
3/11/19 6:00pm Update
The FAA has issued a Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community (CANIC) related to the Boeing 737-8 and Boeing 737-9 (737 MAX) fleet.
3/11/19 3:15pm Update
An FAA team is on-site with the NTSB in its investigation of Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302. We are collecting data and keeping in contact with international civil aviation authorities as information becomes available.Today, the FAA will issue a Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community (CANIC) for Boeing 737 MAX operators. The FAA continuously assesses and oversees the safety performance of U.S. commercial aircraft. If we identify an issue that affects safety, the FAA will take immediate and appropriate action.