Back Story of the B-737 Max 8 Flight Tests with EASA, TC and ANAC

B-737 Max 8 Flight Test
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The saga of the Boeing Max 8 grounding and now the renewed determination of airworthiness has received as much attention as any aviation safety issue for decades. Given the voracious appetite of reporters for the details of this global crisis involving the Civil Aviation Authorities (CAAs) reacting to the tragic crashed, there is considerable transparency about the certification basis of this aircraft.

A major revelation has been the international network among the CAAs. Through a series of Bilateral Aviation Safety Agreements (BASAs), the authorities with the major aircraft approval responsibilities share those duties and recognize the competence of their equivalent organizations. The integrity of this system took a major hit between March 11 and 13, 2019 when eleven CAAs grounded the Max 8  without specifying an airworthiness basis.

The standard BASA includes the following statement of reciprocal recognition of competence and of shared authorities (from the EASA BASA)

ARTICLE 4 General Provisions

A. Each Party shall accept findings of compliance and approvals made by the other Party’s Technical Agent and, in the case of the United States those made by Aviation Authorities, in accordance with the terms and conditions set forth in the Annexes to this Agreement.



As described in the below three press releases, EASA, Transport Canada, ANAC (Brazil) and the FAA are about to engage in JOINT FLIGHT TESTING of the Max 8. Perhaps, these parties have made unannounced agreements ignoring Article 4 and declaring that the FAA’s findings are not worthy of acceptance. While it is true that the FAA’s approval of MCAS had deficiencies, the other CAAs have had significant certification errors (e.g. Airbus 380 Wing Update; Where’s EASA When Airbus Lifts Its Ban On Super Puma Flights, After A North Sea Crash?)

B-737 Max 8 flight test cockpit

FAA Statement

FAA Logo


The agency continues to follow a robust certification process. In addition to the standard FAA certification team, the 737 MAX Technical Advisory Board (TAB) continues to provide valuable review and consultation.

·       JOEB Validation & FSB Review – Final planning is underway for the FAA’s Flight Standardization Board (FSB) and the Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB) review of proposed training for flight crews, based on the design change and crew procedures. The results of this evaluation will be included in the updated Flight Standardization Board report, which will also be posted for public comment.
The JOEB will include regulators from
Canada, Europe, and Brazil and will evaluate minimum pilot training requirements. The FSB will issue a draft report for public comment addressing the findings of the JOEB.

·       Final FSB Report – The FAA will publish a final FSB report after reviewing and addressing public comments.

·       Final Design Documentation and TAB Report – The FAA will review Boeing’s final design documentation to evaluate compliance with all FAA regulations. The multi-agency Technical Advisory Board will also review the final Boeing submission and issue a final report prior to a final determination of compliance by the FAA.

·       CANIC & AD – The FAA will issue a Continued Airworthiness Notification to the International Community (CANIC) providing notice of pending significant safety actions and will publish a final Airworthiness Directive (AD) that addresses the known issues for grounding. The AD will advise operators of required corrective actions before aircraft may re-enter commercial service.

·       FAA Rescinds Grounding Order – This marks the official ungrounding of the aircraft, pending completion by operators of the work specified in the AD, along with any required training.

·       Certificates of Airworthiness – The FAA will retain its authority to issue airworthiness certificates and export certificates for all new 737 MAX airplanes manufactured since the grounding. The FAA will perform in-person, individual reviews of these aircraft.

·       Operator Training Programs – The FAA will review and approve training programs for all Part 121 operators.

The FAA will not speculate when the work will be completed. The agency continues to follow a deliberate process and will take the time it needs to thoroughly review Boeing’s work. We will lift the grounding order only after FAA safety experts are satisfied that the aircraft meets certification standards.


Statement on Transport Canada’s validation tests of updated Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft


August 28, 2020            Ottawa, Ontario             Transport Canada

“The Government of Canada remains committed to keeping Canadians, the travelling public, and the transportation system safe and secure.

“Transport Canada continues to work extensively with the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and civil aviation authorities in Europe and Brazil throughout the validation process of the Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft.

Transport Canada will not lift the flight restrictions on the Boeing 737 MAX 8 until the department is fully satisfied that all safety concerns have been addressed by the manufacturer and the FAA, and that enhanced flight crew procedures and training are in place.”

Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau

Background information

Transport Canada has successfully completed a series of flight test activities of the updated aircraft as part of the validation process. From August 23 to 25, 2020, Transport Canada’s flight test crew were flown to Seattle, Washington, to conduct evaluations on the engineering simulator at the Boeing facility and then at the end of the each test day, were flown back to Vancouver.

The flight test evaluations took place on August 26 and 27 in U.S. airspace using the Boeing test aircraft.

Mitigation measures due to the COVID-19 pandemic were established for the validation activities, including the flight tests, to ensure the health and safety of Transport Canada employees.

Canada is the first international regulator to complete validation testing activities of the aircraft. Transport Canada is now analyzing the results of these tests. Transport Canada will determine, through its own independent review, whether to validate the proposed changes.

This fall, once our analysis is completed, Transport Canada will participate in a Joint Operational Evaluation Board, which is made up of representatives from global certification authorities. The results of the Board will be used to establish the minimum training requirements for the return to service of the 737 MAX 8 aircraft.

EASA schedules its flight tests for the Boeing 737 MAX

COLOGNE, August 27, 2020 – The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has been working steadily, in close cooperation with the FAA and Boeing, to return the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to service as soon as possible, but only once it is convinced it is safe.

While Boeing still has some final actions to close off, EASA judges the overall maturity of the re-design process is now sufficient to proceed to flight tests. These are a prerequisite for the European agency to approve the aircraft’s new design.

EASA has been working with the FAA and Boeing to schedule its flight tests, a process which has been hindered by COVID-19 travel restrictions between Europe and the United States.
The parties have now reached agreement that EASA’s flight tests will take place in Vancouver, Canada in the week commencing September 7, 2020. 

Simulator tests will take place in the previous week (from Sept 1, 2020) in London Gatwick in the United Kingdom. The Joint Operations Evaluation Board (JOEB), will also take place in Gatwick, in the week beginning September 14, 2020.

Perhaps, as noted above, these flight tests are being conducted with an understanding between all of the parties. If not, the FAA Certification Service could easily take exception by this oversight, contrary to the terms of BASA. These four CAAs have access to all of the underlying data and have participated in the remedial steps.

B-737 Max 8 flight  test track

Such a complaint might seem petty, but the “precedent” might cause China, Russia, Japan,  India and the other CAAs that grounded the Boeing 737 Max 8 in 2019 to demand similar opportunities.



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1 Comment on "Back Story of the B-737 Max 8 Flight Tests with EASA, TC and ANAC"

  1. The article “Back Story Of The B-737 Max 8 Flight Tests With EASA, TC And ANAC” misrepresents main principles of the EU-USA BASA by simply highlighting one excerpt of article 4, ignoring crucial articles and provisions that fully support the validating authorities in their course of action. The emphasis in art 4 should be placed as follows (see UPPERCASES)

    ARTICLE 4 General Provisions
    A. Each Party shall accept findings of compliance and approvals made by the other Party’s Technical Agent and, in the case of the United States those made by Aviation Authorities, IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE TERMS AND CONDITIONS SET FORTH IN THE ANNEXES TO THIS AGREEMENT.

    In addition, it would have been appropriate to quote Art 15:

    Article 15 – Preservation of Regulatory Authority
    Nothing in this Agreement shall be construed to limit the authority of a Party to:
    A. Determine, through its legislative, regulatory and adminis­ trative measures, the level of protection it considers appro­ priate for civil aviation safety and environmental testing and approvals; and
    B. Take all appropriate and immediate measures necessary to eliminate or minimise any derogation of safety. If either Party takes such action affecting activities within the scope of this Agreement, it shall inform the other Party where appropriate through a Technical Agent or an Aviation Authority as soon as practicable, but no later than 15 days after such action is taken.

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