TORONTO — The news reports coming in from Grand Bahama and the Abaco Islands are heartbreaking, and the images even more so.
MONTREAL — Many of the world’s top aviation executives will attend two separate meetings today to discuss the fate of Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft.
Airline representatives, including those from Air Canada, American Airlines and United Airlines, will be convening in Montreal for a private meeting with the International Air Transport Association (IATA). Of IATA’s 290 member airlines, 28 have the MAX in their fleet.
At the same time, representatives from 33 global aviation regulators will meet in Fort Worth, Texas to hear FAA officials describe the steps they have taken – and what remains to be done – before the plane flies again.
The list of foreign regulators includes delegates from Indonesia and Ethiopia, where the two crashes occurred before the plane was grounded worldwide in March. In all, 346 people died.
Acting FAA Administrator Daniel Elwell repeated that his agency won’t lift the grounding of the Max until it is safe. He said people eventually will get back on the plane.
“Is public confidence shaken right now? Maybe,” Elwell told reporters, adding that once the FAA finishes its study of Boeing’s changes to the plane, “the public will fly it and the public will be confident in U.S. and global travel.”
He also added: “If it takes a year to find everything we need to give us the confidence to lift the (grounding) order, then so be it. I’m not tied to a timetable.”
Boeing said it has finished work on flight-control software that has been implicated in both accidents. The company, however, hasn’t submitted final paperwork to regulators or scheduled a mandatory test flight with FAA experts.
Because the plane was designed and built in the United States, the FAA is almost certain to be the first to certify it safe to fly. Regulators from China, Europe and Canada have indicated they plan their own reviews before ungrounding the plane, but FAA officials hope they don’t wait too long.
At today’s meeting in Texas, FAA will share its safety analysis of the Max.
In Montreal, details of the meeting remain a mystery, with airlines staying tight-lipped about its proceedings. A spokesman for Air Canada, which has 24 MAX jets in its fleet, confirmed that the carrier will be in attendance at today’s meeting but declined further comment.
IATA did, however, confirm in a statement last week that the meeting “will provide a forum for airlines to exchange information about the experiences and challenges that they face as a result of the grounding and in their preparation for the reintroduction of the aircraft into operations.”
With file from The Associated Press