EU Aviation Agency gives Boeing 737 Max Green Light to Fly
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has given the go-ahead for the return of the Boeing 737 MAX to European airspace following two years on the ground. The aircraft was grounded worldwide following the 2018 Lion Air disaster in Indonesia followed by the Ethiopian airlines crash the following year. The two accidents happened within six months of each other claiming 346 lives.
The approval comes following a number of modifications to the aircraft including mandating a package of software upgrades, electrical working rework, maintenance checks, operations manual updates and crew training which will allow the plane to fly safely.
The US aviation regulator, The Federal Aviation Administration, granted its approval for the return of the aircraft to US airspace late last year.
Making the announcement, EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky, said ‘We have reached a significant milestone on a long road. Following extensive analysis by EASA, we have determined that the 737 MAX can safely return to service. This assessment was carried out in full independence of Boeing or the Federal Aviation Administration and without any economic or political pressure – we asked difficult questions until we got answers and pushed for solutions which satisfied our exacting safety requirements. We carried out our own flight tests and simulator sessions and did not rely on others to do this for us.’
The EASA was keen to reiterate that monitoring of the aircraft would be ongoing with Mr. Ky adding, ‘Let me be quite clear that this journey does not end here. We have every confidence that the aircraft is safe, which is the precondition for giving our approval. But we will continue to monitor 737 MAX operations closely as the aircraft resumes service. In parallel, and at our insistence, Boeing has also committed to work to enhance the aircraft still further in the medium term, in order to reach an even higher level of safety.’
The Airworthiness Directive, which details the aircraft and operational suitability changes, including crew training requirements, must be carried out before each individual plane returns to service. Scheduling of these mandated actions is a matter for the aircraft operators, under the oversight of Member States’ national aviation authorities, meaning that the actual return to service may take some time.
It is expected that COVID-19 may also have an influence on the pace of return to commercial operations.