European regulator to lift its flight ban from Boeing 737 MAX in January next year
Europe is set to lift the ban on the Boeing 737 MAX passenger airliner next January after US regulators last week lifted a 20-month flight ban caused by two fatal disasters..
The head of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said in a speech on Saturday that the 737 MAX became safe to fly after design changes to the aircraft, which crashed twice in five months in 2018 and 2019, killing 346 people..
«We wanted to conduct a fully independent safety analysis of this aircraft, so we conducted our own inspections and flight tests.», – said the executive director Patrick Kai (Patrick Ky) at the Paris Aviation Forum, an online aviation conference hosted by La Tribune.
«All of this research tells us that the 737 MAX may return to service. We started to take all measures», – he said. «It is likely that in our case we will make decisions to return to operation sometime in January.».
EASA’s decision is seen as a major milestone following the FAA’s approval, as, as the observer in charge of Airbus, the agency also has significant weight in the industry.
Officials have confirmed that a draft EASA directive proposing the end of the European flight ban will be released next week, followed by a 30-day comment period. After its revision, this could lead to a decision to resume flights in January 2021..
How long it will take to resume flights in Europe depends on the training of the pilots and the amount of time it takes airlines to update the software and perform other actions foreseen by EASA.
In the United States, the first commercial flights are slated for December 29, almost six weeks after the FAA issued an order on November 18..
EASA represents the 27 countries of the European Union plus four other countries, including Norway, which has an order for 92 aircraft of this model. Until December 31, it also represents the United Kingdom, which withdrew from the EU in January.
The accidents in Indonesia and Ethiopia sparked a slew of investigations, in which Boeing was accused of poor engineering decisions and the FAA of weak oversight. They also scrutinized the close relationship between the FAA and Boeing..
«It is clear that there were a number of irregularities in (FAA’s) actions and their relationship with Boeing, Kai said.. «I will not go into details, as this is none of my business. FAA is in the process of taking corrective action».
He said that EASA will change some of its methods and take on an expanded role in analyzing the critical performance of foreign aircraft. Kai said it would be the same «more implacable» ensure that key security checks are completed before proceeding to the next steps. So far, it has been that one primary regulator certifies an aircraft and others largely follow suit after varying degrees of independent audits..
«It is clear that the way Boeing aircraft are inspected and certified will change, but will this affect the timing (certification)? No, I do not think so; we will act differently», – said Kai.
Boeing is developing the 777X, a larger version of its 777.
Many believe that EASA has strengthened itself after the Boeing crisis and some regulators are awaiting its MAX decisions rather than immediately following the FAA as in the past..
Last week the head of the FAA Steve Dixon (Steve Dickson) downplayed any differences by stating that «very little clearance» and that the FAA works closely with Europe, Canada and Brazil.