FILE PHOTO: An aerial photo shows Boeing 737 MAX airplanes parked on the tarmac at the Boeing Factory in Renton, Washington, U.S. March 21, 2019. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson
CHICAGO (Reuters) – The head of global airlines lobby IATA warned on Tuesday that a discrepancy among global regulators over reapproving Boeing Co’s (BA.N) 737 MAX for commercial flight could set a worrying precedent for future aircraft programs.
The MAX, Boeing’s newest single-aisle aircraft, was grounded worldwide in March after two deadly crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia within five months. Boeing is updating flight control software at the center of both crashes that must be approved by regulators before the planes can fly commercially again.
Normally, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration has taken the lead on certifying Boeing aircraft and other aviation regulators globally follow suit, a process supported by the International Air Transport Association (IATA).
But global regulators have indicated they would pursue their own analysis of the 737 MAX and Boeing’s proposed updates, rather than simply following the FAA, which has suffered a dent to its credibility following the two crashes.
“With the 737 MAX we are a bit worried … because we don’t see the normal unanimity among international regulators that should be the case,” Alexandre de Juniac, IATA director general, told reporters ahead of a summit in Chicago.
“We see a discrepancy that’s detrimental to the industry,” he said, adding that if regulators wish to change the process, he recommends they do it “collectively.”
The Montreal-based IATA has hosted two summits about the 737 MAX that have included the participation of international airlines, Boeing, the FAA and other regulators.
Reporting by Tracy Rucinski; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Jonathan Oatis