In a growing line of whistleblowers and skeptics voicing their concerns before the expected re-certification of the Boeing 737 MAX, another rogue agent has emerged. In an email sent to regulators in the U.S., Europe and Brazil, a Transport Canada safety official called for the entire removal of the MCAS system from the 737 MAX. The official believes that the U.S. plane maker should remove the software, largely blamed for the two deadly 737 MAX 8 crashes, before the aircraft is cleared to fly again.
“The only way I see moving forward at this point… is that the MCAS has to go,” Jim Marko, manager of Aircraft Integration and Safety Assessment at Canada’s aviation regulator – Transport Canada – wrote in the email, according to The New York Times, which first reported the news.
In the email, sent to the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC) on November 19, 2019, Marko expressed his “uneasiness” about Boeing’s attempts to fix the MCAS software.
“Judging from the number and degree of open issues that we have, I am feeling that final decisions on acceptance will not be technically based,” he was quoted as saying by Canada’s National Post. “This leaves me with a level of uneasiness that I cannot sit idly by and watch it pass by…”
Marko continues to say that, according to him, the only feasible option at this point is to remove the MCAS software altogether, with all the compliance issues that such move would entail, if regulators and the public were to regain confidence in the sign-off on the 737 MAX.
However, Marko’s counterpart at the FAA, to whom the email was addressed, seems to share his concerns about the multiple identified problems with the MCAS and its update. “I have held similar perspective (questioning the need for MCAS, at least from the system safety standpoint),” Linh Le, a system safety engineer at the FAA, wrote in a separate email to his colleagues, according to The New York Times, which reviewed the emails.
Boeing desperately wants to recertify with MCAS, and it increasingly looks like they are not going to get that.
Additionally, Boeing will no longer be able to perform the final inspection on aircraft before they are shipped to airlines:
In the latest hurdle confronting Boeing Co.’s bid to get its grounded 737 MAX fleet back in the air, federal regulators now intend to inspect and sign off on every jet individually before delivery to airlines.
The move, spelled out Tuesday by the Federal Aviation Administration in a letter to the plane maker, signals that resuming MAX flights will be more complicated and perhaps time-consuming than previously projected.
The FAA stripped Boeing of longstanding authority to perform such routine, pre-delivery safety checks and signoffs of MAX planes on its own, amounting to another public pushback by the agency against company pressure to accelerate the reinstatement.
It is very likely that both the approval of the aircraft, and the approval of individual aircraft shipped to airlines, will be delayed.