By Andy Pasztor and Andrew Tangel
Boeing Co. got a tentative personal endorsement for fixes to its beleaguered 737 Max from the head of the Federal Aviation Administration after he personally took one of the jets on a test flight.
“I like what I saw on the flight this morning,” said FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, a former Air Force aviator and senior airline pilot, after sitting behind the controls for a two-hour ride over parts of the Pacific Northwest, accompanied by a handful of pilots who work for Boeing /zigman2/quotes/208579720/composite BA +0.84% and the FAA.
The agency is in the final phase of a drawn-out process vetting hardware and software changes to the Max, particularly to an automated flight-control system that led to two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019.
“I felt very comfortable. I felt very prepared based on the training,” Dickson, still wearing his blue FAA flight suit, told reporters, referring to Boeing’s proposed ground-simulator training sessions for pilots that would get the Max back in the air. “We’re in the homestretch, but it doesn’t mean we’re going to take shortcuts.”
Wednesday’s flight — which Dickson pledged months ago to perform — is one of the last steps intended to allay passengers’ concerns about the Max’s safety before the FAA is expected to clear the aircraft to resume commercial operations.
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