U.S. and European aviation safety regulators will hold talks with Boeing this week to complete a software review of the 737 Max, a key step in the aircraft’s eventual return to service. Both the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) confirmed Tuesday that they will meet with Boeing in the Seattle area and then travel to the Rockwell Collins plant in Cedar Sidaphz, Iowa, to complete the audit.
Documentation requirements are critical to the certification of increasingly complex aircraft software and can be a cause of delays. In 2008, eASA almost put the Airbus A400M military transport aircraft on hold after a failed software document review.
EASA and FAA met with Boeing at the Rockwell Collins plant in Cedar Head in early November, but did not approve the review. They reportedly requested a revision of the 737 MAX software and pointed out some issues.
In mid-January, Boeing will stop producing the best-selling aircraft. The aircraft has been grounded since March 2019, five months after two consecutive air crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia killed 346 people.
Boeing said Monday that it will reassign 3,000 employees to other jobs because of the temporary shutdown.
It has previously been reported that the FAA may not approve the aircraft’s re-flight until at least February, March or later this year.
Boeing said in November that regulators had asked for “different forms of communication and that the relevant documents have been revised accordingly.” ”
Boeing had no immediate comment Tuesday.
In September, FAA Director Steve Dickson said the agency had told Boeing that “it would be better to be methodical and very detailed than to try to rush to finish a semi-finished product and then say, ‘We’ll give you the rest.’ ‘”
An industry insider says aviation software audits often find inconsistencies or omissions in documents, but rarely lead to changes to the underlying software or systems.