The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) said Wednesday it was examining production issues involving Boeing Co’s 737 MAX and confirmed the company would not approve the grounded commercial jet for flight before year-end.
At a U.S. lawmakers’ hearing, FAA head Steve Dickson cited a series of steps that still have to be completed before 737 MAX approval.
A significant delay in 737 MAX approval could force Boeing to cut or even stop the manufacturing of the planes; the plane manufacturer has said, with repercussions across its global supply chain and for scores of airline customers.
The International Air Transport Association chief, Alexandre de Juniac, warned Wednesday that airlines had been nearing the end of their ability to manage the 737 MAX shutdown smoothly.
Federal delegates said this week that FAA permit was not likely until January at the earliest, although some U.S. officials think it may not be until at least February.
Airlines have stated they need a month or more to prepare their jets and crew once the FAA offers clearance for flight.
The 737 MAX production probes come after an ex-manager warned that schedule pressure and employee fatigue had been raising safety risks.
The manager, Ed Pierson, drew a connection between the faulty Angle of Attack sensors in two 737 MAX fatal crashes that killed 346 people and what he called a “chaotic and alarming state” inside Boeing’s manufacturing facility that undermined quality and safety.
Legislators asked Dickson about an internal FAA evaluation presented after the first deadly crash on a Lion Air flight in Indonesia in 2018 that suggested critical risks of crashes over the lifetime of the airplane and asked why that didn’t prompt more aggressive actions.