National Transportation Safety Board Chairman Robert Sumwalt says proposed safety upgrades for Boeing’s (NYSE:BA) 737 MAX are “positive progress” toward meeting cockpit and systems recommendations it made last year, possibly paving the way for the Federal Aviation Administration to lift a ban on the jet before the end of the year.

Sumwalt’s comments were submitted during a 45-day public comment period for proposed 737 MAX design and operating changes detailed by the FAA last month.

The comments are significant because the NTSB is an independent agency and has been critical of the FAA’s oversight of the Max; NTSB investigators participated in probes of both crashes that led to the grounding of the plane in March 2019.

The FAA will review the comments filed in the case before deciding on whether to formally approve a set of fixes to the plane so that the grounding order can be lifted.

A congressional report released this week slammed Boeing and the FAA over the 737 MAX’s failures, citing numerous design, management and regulatory failures during the plane’s development.


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