Source: Delta Air Lines
Federal Aviation Administrator Steve Dickson says he will not allow the Boeing 737 Max jets to return to the skies until he personally flies the plane.
"I am the authority for the final deregistration in the US and will not deregister the aircraft until I fly it myself," Dickson told NBC News during an interview in Las Vegas. NBC correspondent Tom Costello urged Dickson, a former pilot accredited to fly the 737, to actually pilot the aircraft on a short flight before officially authorizing Max for commercial operation. "I'm going to fly Max," Dickson said.
Dickson's comments come on the eve of his visit to Boeing outside Seattle, Washington. Dickson will meet with Boeing executives and provide software updates for the 737 Max flight control system. He will also get into a simulator and test the changes made by Boeing engineers at Max. Earlier this week, in his first interview since taking over the FAA, Dickson told CNBC, "I can assure you that the plane will not fly again until I'm convinced it's the safest thing on the market."
Dickson's decision It is a new development to fly Max before he is finally approved for commercial use. The official procedure is for Boeing to apply for certification after a test flight involving a Boeing pilot and a FAA pilot.
During this re-certification flight, the crew will undergo a maneuver checklist to see how the aircraft handles these situations. After the flight, the Boeing and FAA flight engineers will review the results. If these results meet the targets Boeing and FAA have agreed in advance, the company will apply for a renewed certification.
Since Dickson is not a test pilot, he is not in the cockpit during the renewed Max certification flight. When Dickson would fly, is not fixed yet.
"We will work to meet the needs of the administrator, and we will continue to support global regulators as we work to get the aircraft back into service safely," said Boeing spokesman Chaz Bickers.
CNBC's Meghan Reeder contributed to this report.