No, the rules are that the cockpit design must conform to the current regs for a clean sheet design and have some leeway in terms of the incorporation of a derivative in to a already existing type certificate. What that quote says is that the current regulations are being impacted by what was learned from the max and so the requirements that a new build must meet are different than that which Boeing expected. Nothing about whether grandfathering is acceptable or not.
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If I may provide a summary of what I know, what I suspect based on how I know regulatory agencies can work, and what I was told by someone working on the NMA at a high enough level to know a lot about what was going on).
The 737Max investigations involved the formation of several panels consisting primarily of representatives from Brazil, Canada, EASA, FAA. China was granted observer status (and could comment) on the panels established under the international air safety treaty between Brazil, Canada, EASA, and the FAA. The NTSB investigation had a similar panel and their report indicated many issues with cockpit and flight control; and some of those issues are general to large commercial aviation (regardless of manufacturer). I note that Airbus for years has been promoting better training around the world to deal with some of these issues.
It is my belief that apparently these international working groups came to some kind of understanding on where cockpit design and pilot workload needs to head in the future as they progressed through things.
My information is that the NMA business case had actually closed, they had customers who wanted it, and that the only reason it had not been presented to the board of directors for approval to move forward spring 2019 was the 737Max crisis (my memory was that this delay of NMA project presentation was reported in several news sources at the time). Also, that the NMA cockpit was based on the 787 cockpit.
The NMA project progressed with further design work and production optimization planning while the 737Max situation continued.
At essentially the same time as the CEO quote listed above by Revelation, I received word from my contact that they would have to restart over with cockpit concept and design as the FAA had told them (Boeing) that neither the 787 cockpit or any other they currently had addressed the significant cockpit issues raised during the 737Max investigation... and would not be accepted in any proposed clean sheet aircraft (not already in process). My contact estimated at least a year delay - and possibly more.
I note that this is actually only the 2nd time though the NMA project that we had been talking that my contact told me anything specific about a decision. Everything else was theoretical type engineering/business discussions on the pro's and con's of one approach or another, how you could approach studying an issue, to which degree you studied things, different variations on how Boeing could get the kind of engine the wanted, etc. without ever indicating at all what had been decided (and I'm sure they knew most of the major decisions: to this day I don't know from them if they decided Al or Carbon Fiber, 1 isle or 2, and many other things). So given they told me something very specific and with details... that was rare. The CEO's comment aligned perfectly with my contacts comments. Back to the drawing board.
Now, this might not be "regulation"; but, I've seen many times where the NRC told us in the nuclear plant I worked that due to a new issue or new knowledge that we would have to do better than the existing regulation; and propose something that both meet the current regulations and solve the newly identified issue that they could review (and often the 1st company to propose a workable solution set the new standard that was adopted into the regulations). I suspect that the FAA operates at time with the same mindset. While you might eventually win a legal battle fighting that - you loose many years and a lot of money to get there (and how much could the FAA/EASA, etc. delay the certification of a new aircraft if they are forced by the courts to accept something like this). It's just not worth it. So your point may legally valid about meeting current regulations; just not practical business one the regulator tells you that you need to "do better" to improve safety based on new information. Given the international panels assembled. I suspect that the same expectation will be made for all other new clean sheet large commercial aircraft (above a certain size) in their respective countries.
It is also my understanding that this does not apply to derivatives. Airbus can produce updated models of their family of aircraft with just a derivative review with the cockpit grandfathered in. Boeing can do the same. However, I suspect that the review process for such aircraft will be noticeably more detailed and comprehensive by all countries after the 737Max issues. Thus, Airbus could do a A322, A350NEO, etc. Boeing is free to do their 764F when Fed-Ex and UPS want it, along with an updated 787 someday, etc.
But new clean-sheet above a certain size... appears to require a substantial upgrade in cockpit functions and reduction in pilot workload when things get hectic.
I think its a valid question as to where the proposed Embraer new turbo prop fits with this new apparent expectation. Is about 70 passengers in or out of the new expectation? I have no idea.
Have a great day,