The FAA is so concerned about the future of Boeing’s 737 Max that it is bringing in NASA and the Air Force to help ensure it is safe to fly again

The cockpit of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in June 2018.

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The cockpit of Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft in June 2018.
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REUTERS/Abhirup Roy

  • The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) announced Tuesday that it is bringing in experts from NASA, the US Air Force, and the Department of Transportation to help with the certification of Boeing’s proposed software fix to its 737 Max planes.
  • The FAA said that the group will review the fix and its recommendations will “directly inform” decisions over the return of the plane, currently grounded around the world following two fatal crashes.
  • The creation of the board comes as the FAA comes under increased scrutiny for its certification processes and Boeing promises that the plane will be “one of the safest airplanes ever to fly” when it returns.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

The Federal Aviation Administration is so concerned about the future of Boeing’s 737 Max that it is bringing in experts from NASA and the Air Force to help make sure it is safe to fly again.

America’s aviation regulator announced on Tuesday that it is creating a Technical Advisory Board that will review Boeing’s software update to its 737 Max, a fix that must be approved by the FAA before the planes will be allowed to fly again.

The panel is made up of experts from the FAA, NASA, the US Air Force, and a branch of the Department of Transportation. None of the members of the panel were involved in the initial certification of the plane, the FAA said, according to Reuters.

The recommendations of this group will “directly inform the FAA’s decision concerning the 737 MAX fleet’s safe return to service,” the FAA said, Reuters reported.

Read more: Boeing reportedly knew of the software error on the 737 Max for a year before telling airlines and regulators

The FAA said that this group “will identify issues where further investigation is required prior to FAA approval of the design change.”

In a statement to Business Insider, Boeing said it welcomed the new group and that all at the company “look forward to working with the panel.”

“Safety is our first priority when we design, build, deliver and maintain Boeing aircraft.”

The plane model has been grounded around the world since March, when an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max crashed shortly after takeoff killing everyone on board, the second such incident in six months. In October 2018, a 737 Max operated by Indonesian airline Lion Air crashed, also killing everyone on board. A total of 346 people were killed in the two crashes.

Boeing has outlined its software fix for the 737 Max, though it has not yet submitted it to the FAA for approval. The fix centers on the plane’s automated MCAS anti-stall software, which Boeing has acknowledged appears to have misfired on both planes based on the preliminary reports from the investigations into both crashes.

But Boeing has defended the design of its planes and its certification process, and raised the possibility of pilot error, even as it pledges to make them safer, and to “earn and re-earn” flyers’ trust.

Read more: Boeing’s 737 Max 8 nightmare and troublesome politics threaten the US’s standing as the global aviation leader

The FAA itself has come under new scrutiny over the fact that it lets aircraft manufacturers like Boeing partially certify their own products, a system that experts say may be harming the US’ reputation as the gold standard for aviation safety in light of the 737 Max crashes.

The FAA’s decision to create a Technical Advisory Board for the 737 Max comes as a federal investigation and Congressional scrutiny focus on how the FAA certified the aircraft to fly.

The EU and Canada also say that they will review Boeing’s software fix themselves, a potential snub to the US and FAA.

Boeing has vowed to make the plane “one of the safest airplanes ever to fly” when it is certified to fly again.