IATA Stresses Need For Harmony on Max Certification

The International Air Transport Association
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The International Air Transport Association on May 23 held a meeting with Boeing 737 Max operators—both IATA and non-IATA-members—and has invited Boeing, OEMs, regulators, and operators to another meeting on June 26 to discuss the aircraft’s grounding and its re-certification process by the different aviation authorities around the world.

"[The recent Boeing 737 Max accidents] have put our reputation in the spotlight. Serious questions arise with two accidents of a new aircraft model in quick succession,” IATA director-general and CEO Alexandre de Juniac said on June 2 at the industry trade body's annual general meeting in Seoul. “Trust in the certification system has been damaged—among regulators, between regulators, [within] the industry and with the flying public.”

Investigations will ultimately reveal the cause, but the consequences of the accidents go “far beyond” the technical, he said, slamming the lack of a common, coordinated approach on the grounding of the Max. “People were confused as grounding decisions rolled out in some markets while it was business as usual in others," he stressed, as he called on regulators to avoid a repeat of the patchy approach in the return to service of the type. "Put yourselves in the shoes of travelers and I am sure anyone would expect better.” De Juniac did not advocate for knee-jerk reactions, he insisted, but urged airworthiness authorities and industry to take a transparent and coordinated response in bringing the aircraft back into service “to maintain public confidence in safety.”

He also cautioned against a "de-alignment" of the certification processes—a message shared by Lufthansa Group CEO and new chairman of the IATA board of governors Carsten Spohr, who conceded his concern over the Max recertification process and the possible divergence on the timing between the FAA and other regulatory bodies. “Everyone must be confident that processes are sufficiently thorough not to warrant duplicative and redundant examinations jurisdiction by jurisdiction. While Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration are at center stage, the close collaboration of counterpart manufacturers and civil aviation authorities around the world is essential,” said de Juniac. “Any rift between regulators is not in anybody’s interest,” he said, adding that this is about more than restoring confidence in how aircraft are certified. He also recommended that when issues arise, coordination among regulators and with industry must improve.

Last month’s meeting with 737 Max operators identified fostering trust among regulators and improving coordination as priorities. Those will remain among the key points at a follow-up summit later this month.

The agenda did not cover compensation to airlines, according to Akbar Al Baker, outgoing IATA board of governors chairman and Qatar Airways CEO. He maintained full confidence in Boeing, the FAA, and EASA, he said.

IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac addresses the association's AGM in Seoul. (Photo: IATA)

IATA director general Alexandre de Juniac addresses the association's AGM in Seoul. (Photo: IATA)