Steve Dickson, chief executive of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), sits in the flight deck of a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft performing a pre-flight inspection prior to a pre-flight evaluation flight from Boeing Field in Seattle, Wash., Sept. 30, 2020.
Mike Siegel | Pool | via Reuters
The head of the Federal Aviation Administration was optimistic about Boeing's 737 Max after testing the aircraft on Wednesday. This was the final turn to get the jetliner to fly again after two fatal crashes.
Steve Dickson, a former commercial and military pilot, said last year he would not put the planes up for service if he did not fly the jet himself.
The 737 Max Jets, Boeing's bestseller, have been discontinued worldwide since March 2019 after 346 people were killed in accidents in Ethiopia and Indonesia.
Boeing has made a number of changes to the aircraft since then. The pilots of both crashes struggled with an automated flight control system that the manufacturer has since made less powerful.
"I liked what I saw," Dickson told reporters, adding that he hadn't flown a 737 in nearly 15 years. "I felt that training prepared me to feel very comfortable." He flew the 737 Max 7, the smallest model in the family.
The FAA and other regulatory agencies review of the aircraft, as well as the new training that must be approved before the jets can be put back into service, are proceeding. That could end in the coming months, but Dickson reiterated that the agency doesn't have a set schedule.
American Airlines, which had 24 Max aircraft in its fleet at the time of landing, is preparing to train its 737 pilots in the aircraft as early as November. Pilot training could take weeks and it is not yet clear whether the planes could return to commercial fleets before the end of the year.