The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has confirmed that the Boeing 737 Max is safe to return to operation in Europe. The aircraft has been grounded for almost two years following two fatal accidents of the type occurring in similar circumstances.
EASA revealed that the aircraft had met the four conditions for a return to service that it had laid down. Additionally, it pointed out that its decision was made independently of both Boeing and the FAA.
The United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) last November gave the green light to troubled 737 Max airliners to resume passenger flights. Boeing was also criminally charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States by the Department of Justice and will have to pay a $2.5 billion fine for lying to the FAA before and after the fatal 737 Max crashes in 2018 and 2019.
EASA had laid down four conditions that must be met before it would recertify the Boeing 737 Max to fly in European skies. These were: that the two Boeing 737 Max crashes were deemed sufficiently understood; EASA has approved design changes made by Boeing, and their embodiment is mandated; EASA had completed an independent design review, and Boeing 737 Max crews were adequately trained.
Commenting on the aircraft’s approval, EASA’s Executive Director Patrick Ky said: “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.”
EASA issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) detailing measures that must be taken by operators before they can begin flying each aircraft. The AD requires the same physical changes to the aircraft as the FAA’s AD. The seven main actions in the AD are software updates for the flight control computer, including the MCAS system; software updates to display an alert in the case of disagreement between the angle of attack sensors, and physical separation of the wires routed from the cockpit to the stabiliser trim motor.
Others are updates to flight manuals so pilots can understand and manage all relevant failure scenarios; mandatory training for all 737 Max pilots; tests of systems, including the angle of attack system, and an operational readiness flight without passengers due to the long storage of the aircraft.