By Alan Levin / Bloomberg News
WASHINGTON — U.S. aviation regulators are calling for a meeting with their counterparts from about 50 other countries to discuss progress on returning Boeing Co.’s grounded 737 Max to service as some nations have begun saying they will perform independent assessments of the plane.
The Federal Aviation Administration on Tuesday sent a letter to regulators around the world asking them to an “informal briefing” in Montreal on Monday. Boeing is in the process of redesigning the 737 Max to fix a design flaw that caused it to dive automatically. The FAA and other nations must approve the changes before it can fly again.
“The success of the global aviation system rests squarely on a shared commitment to safety and a common understanding of what it takes to achieve it,” according to the letter, which was seen by Bloomberg. “The FAA is committed to keeping communication channels open and providing useful information as you make your individual decisions on safely returning your fleets to service.”
The meeting will be the first time that FAA Administrator Steve Dickson, who took office last month, has had a chance to interact directly on the matter with the other regulators. The agency hosted a similar discussion last May in Texas.
A person familiar with the meeting said that it was a routine attempt to keep other countries up to date on the FAA’s work. The person wasn’t authorized to discuss the issue and asked not to be named.
In recent weeks, other regulators have indicated they may be moving more cautiously than the FAA on returning the plane to service. The European Aviation Safety Agency, for example, said in a presentation this month that it is looking at broader design changes and wouldn’t simply accept the FAA’s analysis.
Crashes of the 737 Max off the coast of Indonesia and in Ethiopia killed a total of 346 people after similar malfunctions prompted the planes to automatically dive. Boeing has said it hopes the plane can resume operations in the fourth quarter.
News of the meeting was reported earlier by Reuters.