FAA tells Boeing 737 Max operators it’s too early to draw conclusions on safety

An Air Canada Boeing 737 Max 8 departs Vancouver International Airport March 4, 2019 (photo: Brett Ballah).

The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has told the world’s airlines it’s too early to draw conclusions or draw any parallels between the crash of two Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft less than five months apart.

The agency issued what’s called a “Continued Airworthiness Notification” Monday afternoon in the wake of the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines Max 8 that killed 157 people, including 18 Canadians. The FAA has sent investigators to Ethiopia to help determine what went wrong.

“External reports are drawing similarities between this accident and the Lion Air Flight 610 accident on October 29, 2018,” reads the notification. “However, this investigation has just begun and to date we have not been provided data to draw any conclusions or take any actions.”

In both cases, new aircraft lurched up and down before finally crashing. In the case of Lion air, evidence points to a faulty Angle of Attack sensor as a contributor to the crash.

The FAA says as a result of the Lion Air crash, it has overseen “Boeing’s completion of the flight control system enhancements, which provide reduced reliance on procedures associated with required pilot memory items.”

Boeing has also updated its Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System and pilot training.

The Certification means that Boeing Max aircraft around the world – 387 at last count – remain air worthy, despite a growing number of airlines and countries grounding the Max 8 in response to the crashes.

In Canada, Transport Minister Marc Garneau left little doubt his ministry would work in lockstep with their American counterparts.

“My colleagues at Transport Canada are working with the NTSB and the FAA who are the leads because they certified this aircraft,” Garneau told reporters in Montreal.

The Max family are among the world’s best-selling aircraft, with more than 5,000 orders by 100 airlines around the world. Air Canada, Westjet and Sunwing operate a combined 41 Max 8s in Canada. In fact, the latest Max 8 to join the fleet was delivered Monday to Sunwing.

“All data will be closely examined during this investigation,” said the FAA, “and the FAA will take appropriate action if the data indicates the need to do so.”

Comair grounded its brand-new Boeing 737 Max 8 amid concerns about the type after two fatal accidents (photo: Boeing).