The FAA action is only the first step in allowing 59 airlines which own the 387 grounded planes to fly them as part of their schedule. The FAA said in a statement before any of the planes can be flown with passengers again, the necessary changes to the 737 Max identified in the approval process must be installed, the FAA must inspect the individual planes. The pilots must also complete additional training.
Family members of victims speak out
Some of the family members of those who died in the crashes have objected to the return to service for the plane. They say Boeing made mistakes in the design of the 737 Max, the newest version of a long-serving plane, which made their version dangerous, and the FAA made mistakes approving the original version and recertifying it to fly now.
“The plane is inherently unstable and it is unairworthy without its software,” said Michael Stumo, whose daughter Samaya Rose Stumo died in the March 2019 crash of an Ethiopian Airlines plane. “They haven’t fixed it so far. The flying public should avoid the Max in the future. Change your flight.”
Stumo and other family members had a press conference Tuesday ahead of the announcement. Stumo said the FAA should have insisted on a third sensor be added to determine if the plane is in danger of stalling. He said other changes should have been made to the way pilots are alerted if there is a problem.
“We as family members want to avoid a third crash,” he said.
The investigation into how to fix the plane was originally expected to be finished by the fall of 2019, but stretched on as new questions about the plane arose.
FAA and Boeing praise the process
“The path that led us to this point was long and grueling,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson in a video statement Wednesday. “But we said from the start that we would take the time necessary to get this right. We were never driven by a timeline, but rather following a methodical and deliberate safety process. During this time FAA employees diligently worked on the fixes that were necessary.”
“Base on all the activities we have undertaken during the past 20 months, and my personal experience flying the aircraft, I can tell you now I am 100% comfortable with my family flying on it,” he said.
The FAA has worked throughout the process with aviation authorities around the world, and most are expected to issue their own orders to unground the plane as well. But there could be delays in returning the planes to service around the world. Most of the 387 grounded planes are outside of the United States.
Boeing also said it is confident that the plane will be safe to fly once all the required steps are taken.
“We will never forget the lives lost in the two tragic accidents that led to the decision to suspend operations,” said David Calhoun, chief executive officer of The Boeing Company. “These events and the lessons we have learned as a result have reshaped our company and further focused our attention on our core values of safety, quality and integrity.”
Problems throughout the inspection
“Would you put your family on a Max simulator trained aircraft? I wouldn’t,” wrote one employee to another during the process in an internal communication revealed during the process. Another employee described the plane as “designed by clowns, who in turn are supervised by monkeys.” And another comment added: “piss poor design.”
— CNN’s Pete Muntean and Gregory Wallace contributed to this report