Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 20 September 2019

Iata chief concerned over global regulators' Boeing 737 Max rift

Alexandre de Juniac worried that regulator discrepancy on Max may set precedent for future jet programmes

Alexandre de Juniac, director general and chief executive officer of Iata, is concerned that discord among global aviation regulators about Boeing 737 Max return to the skies may lead to disruption in certification of future aircraft. Bloomberg
Alexandre de Juniac, director general and chief executive officer of Iata, is concerned that discord among global aviation regulators about Boeing 737 Max return to the skies may lead to disruption in certification of future aircraft. Bloomberg

The leader of the world's biggest airline lobby group is worried that a rift among global aviation regulators on approving the Boeing 737 Max's return to service could set a dangerous precedent for future aircraft programmes.

The International Air Transport Association's chief executive Alexandre de Juniac said that the lack of unity between the US Federal Aviation Administration and its peers in Europe and Canada regarding the grounded jet could disrupt aircraft certification in the future. He emphasised that it is critical to retain single certification for aircraft.

"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,” Mr de Juniac told reporters in Chicago on Tuesday, according to Reuters.

“We see a discrepancy that’s detrimental to the industry,” he added, urging regulators to make any changes to the single certification process “collectively”.

The FAA is traditionally the main lead on certifying Boeing aircraft, with other global regulators following suit. However, international regulators have signalled that they will conduct their own analysis of the troubled 737 Max and Boeing's proposed fixes. The FAA has been criticised for delegating major evaluations of the Max jet to Boeing and waiting longer than many of its global peers to ground flights after a March 10 crash in Ethiopia.

The Max was involved in two deadly crashes within a span of five months that killed 346 people, prompting the US planemaker to work on new software designed to fix the flight control systems.

The FAA said it has a “transparent and collaborative relationship” with other civil aviation authorities, but “each government will make its own decision to return the aircraft to service based on a thorough safety assessment", according to a statement.

Boeing is targeting regulatory approval for the fixes and new pilot training in October, though the FAA reiterated on Tuesday it does not have a firm timeline to allow the jets back in the air.

“Our first priority is safety, and we have set no timeframe for when the work will be completed,” the FAA said.

Airline customers of the Max have been scheduling flights without the aircraft into December, taking a financial hit while the jets are parked.

Mr de Juniac also warned of the negative impact on airlines and cargo carriers from trade tensions and consumer concerns over carbon emissions.

Air freight volumes, a key indicator of a global slowdown, are falling while the growth in passenger traffic is slowing, Mr de Juniac said.

Updated: September 4, 2019 01:36 PM

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