PARIS: Europe is set to lift its ban on its Boeing 737 Max passenger plane in January after US regulators last week ended a 20-month suspension over two fatal accidents.
The head of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said in remarks broadcast on Saturday that the 737 MAX was safe to fly after design changes to the plane that crashed twice in five months in 2018 and 2019, killing 346 people.
“We wanted to do a completely independent analysis of the safety of this aircraft, so we did our own checks and flight tests,” said CEO Patrick Key of the Paris Aviation Forum, an online aviation conference hosted by La Tribune.
“All these studies tell us that the 737 MAX can return to service. We are starting to take all measures.” “It is likely in our case that we will take decisions and allow them to return to service at some point in January,” he added.
The EASA decision is seen as the most important milestone after approval by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), as it is the regulator in charge of Airbus, it also carries significant weight in the industry.
Officials confirmed that a draft EASA directive proposing to end grounding in Europe will be published next week, followed by a 30-day suspension period. After the touches are done, it will lead to a groundless decision in January.
How long it takes for flights to resume in Europe depends on pilot training and the amount of time it takes for airlines to upgrade programs and implement other procedures required by EASA.
In the United States, commercial flights are scheduled to begin on December 29, just under six weeks after the publication of the Federal Aviation Administration’s order on November 18.
EASA represents 27 countries in the European Union plus four other countries including Norway, which has 92 aircraft on order. Until December 31, it also represents the United Kingdom, which left the bloc of the European Union in January.
The crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia sparked a flurry of investigations that Boeing miscalculated and the Federal Aviation Administration missed lax oversight. They also put the coherent relationships between the Federal Aviation Administration and Boeing under the microscope.
“It is clear that there are a number of flaws in the Federal Aviation Administration’s behavior and its relationship with Boeing,” said Key. I will not go into details as it is not up to me to do so. The Federal Aviation Administration is in the process of developing corrective action. “
He said EASA will change some of its own approaches and take a more detailed role in analyzing important features in foreign aircraft.
Key said he would also be “more stubborn” about ensuring that major safety reviews are completed before moving to next steps. So far, there is one primary regulator that certifies the aircraft and the others basically follow it after varying degrees of independent checks.
“What will change is the way we verify and certify Boeing aircraft, this is clear, but will it have an effect on the timing (of accreditation)? No, I don’t think so;“ We will do things differently, ”he said.
Boeing is developing the 777X, which is a larger version of the 777.
EASA is widely seen as emerging stronger from the Boeing crisis, and some regulators are awaiting their decisions on MAX rather than following the FAA directly as in the past.
Federal Aviation Administration chief Steve Dickson downplayed any disagreements last week, saying there was “very little daylight” among the regulators and that the Federal Aviation Administration was working closely with Europe, Canada and Brazil.