FAA chief tries Boeing 737 MAX simulator, tests new safety software

The head of the Federal Aviation Administration stepped into a Boeing 737 Max flight simulator Thursday.

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New FAA chief Stephen Dickson said his agency has no timetable for reviewing changes that Boeing is making to the plane.

Dickson, a former Air Force fighter pilot who flew earlier versions of the 737 during a long career at Delta Air Lines, had two sessions in a flight simulator to test changes Boeing has made to MCAS — making it less powerful and easier for pilots to control. In the first session, he practiced simulations of normal flights.

The FAA declined to say how its updated anti-stall software performed.

That software kicked in before two Max jets crashed, and fixing it is central to Boeing's effort to get the grounded airplane flying again.

Dickson took over in August as the new head of the FAA, which will decide whether U.S. airlines can resume flying the 737 Max.

The FAA grounded the Max in March after the second of two crashes that together killed 346 people.

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Dickson said he will fly a Max jet — not just a simulator — before the plane is ungrounded.

Dickson also toured the Max assembly line near Seattle and met with senior Boeing officials.

Boeing has not yet submitted its safety analysis of the changes. Dickson said he has seen draft materials that still need more work. He did not provide details.

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The FAA's reputation was damaged by revelations it didn't take part in determining the safety of a key flight-control system called MCAS before certifying the Max for flight in 2017.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.