The head of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Steve Dixon, sitting in the cockpit of a Boeing 737 MAX, performed a pre-flight check for a Boeing Field assessment flight in Seattle, Washington, September 30, 2020.
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The head of the Federal Aviation Administration was optimistic about the Boeing 737 Max after testing the plane on Wednesday, the latest twist in the process of boarding the planes again after two fatal crashes.
Last year, Steve Dixon, a former commercial and military pilot, said he would not clear service planes unless he flew the jet himself.
Since then, Boeing has made a number of changes to aircraft. Pilots in both crashes struggled with an automated flight control system, which the manufacturer has since made less powerful.
“I liked what I saw,” Dixon told reporters, adding that he had not flown a 737 for nearly 15 years. “I felt that the training prepared me to be very comfortable.” He flew a 737 Max 7, the smallest model in the family.
The review of aircraft by FAA and other regulators and the new training that will need to be approved before the aircraft can be returned to service are progressing. That could be over in the coming months, but Dixon reiterated that the agency did not have an exact timeline.
American Airlines, which had 24 Max aircraft in its fleet when it landed, is preparing to train its 737 pilots in the aircraft as early as November. Pilot training can take weeks, and it is not yet clear whether the planes can return to the merchant navy before the end of the year.