US regulator tracking all 737 MAX flights

written by Hannah Dowling | February 22, 2021
737 MAX Family in flight (Boeing)

The US Federal Aviation Administration has confirmed it is actively tracking all Boeing 737 MAX airplanes in the skies using satellite data, under an agreement made with air traffic surveillance firm Aireon.

“Aireon is providing the agency with ADS-B flight data for all Boeing 737 MAX aircraft,” the FAA said.

“Aireon’s system will flag deviations from certain parameters during all phases of flight and alert the FAA’s aviation safety division. Safety engineers and inspectors will use the early notification to further analyse the incident.”

Monitoring of all MAX flights began on 29 January, according to Aireon chief technology officer Vinny Capezzuto.

“You can literally monitor it on a situational awareness display and it has event detection tied into it,” Capezzuto said, adding the FAA can look for emergency codes and track other data.

The FAA will reportedly be emailed automatically by the system “when events are detected” and each day will be provided a report on data from all flights from the previous day.

The FAA said it used Aireon data in its decision to ground the entire 737 MAX fleet in March 2019 days after the second fatal 737 MAX crash in five months.

The grounding order was lifted by the FAA in November last year, following a range of safety changes and flight tests.

Regulators around the globe eventually followed suit, however China, a major market for the MAX, has remained tight-lipped on its intentions.

The partnership with Aireon was announced by the FAA in November shortly after the MAX received its recertification, as the FAA announced its decision to actively monitor all MAX flights.

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