The European aviation safety agency on Tuesday said that the Boeing 737 Max will be green-lighted to resume flights in Europe next week, following nearly two years of reviews after the aircraft was involved in two deadly crashes that saw the planes grounded worldwide.
The executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Patrick Ky, told reporters as reported by Associated Press and PTI they planes will be permitted to fly so long as they meet conditions specified by the agency and that pilots are up to date on their training.
The 737 Max will be able to return to service in the EU as soon as Boeing, the US’s aerospace champion, has updated software and rewired some components, and airlines have trained their pilots in the changes. The Guardian newspaper said that speaking at an event held by Germany’s aviation press, Ky said the version of the 737 Max bought by the Irish airline Ryanair will be certified “in the coming weeks”, meaning it will probably be ready for service by summer.
The planes were grounded in March 2019 following the crashes of a Lion Air flight near Jakarta on October 29, 2018, and an Ethiopian Airlines flight on March 10, 2019, killing a total of 346 people. Investigators determined that the cause of the crashes was a faulty computer system that pushed the plane’s nose downward in flight and couldn’t be overridden by pilots.
Changes mandated by EASA include a recertification of the plane’s flight-control system, called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, which was not a part of previous 737 models.
The 737 Max returned to the skies in the United States last month, after the Federal Aviation Administration approved changes that Boeing made to the automated flight control system.
It has also been allowed by Brazil to resume flights, and Transport Canada said earlier this week that it had been cleared to start flying again Wednesday.
Canada’s transport ministry had said Monday that it had approved the Boeing 737 MAX to fly again in this country starting on Wednesday, ending a nearly two-year grounding following two deadly crashes.
After a review of design changes and additional pilot training for the jetliner, Transport Canada said it “will lift the existing Notice to Airmen (NOTAM) which prohibits commercial operation of the aircraft in Canadian airspace on January 20, 2021.”
“This will allow for the return to service of the aircraft in Canada,” it said in a statement.
Canadian airlines, it added, are expected to be ready to return the aircraft to service “in the coming days and weeks.”
Canada’s number two carrier WestJet has said it planned to return its fleet of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to the skies on Thursday after Boeing addressed technical issues and improved pilot training.
Air Canada and Sunwing also have 737 MAX aircrafts in their fleets.
The MAX crisis began with a 2018 crash of the jet in Indonesia, followed by another in March 2019 in Ethiopia, which killed a total of 346 people and saw the aircraft taken out of service across the globe.
Brazil was the first country to allow it to return to service, starting with a domestic flight in December by Brazilian budget carrier Gol, followed by American Airlines in the United States.
In India, SpiceJet said it expects to resume Boeing 737 Max aircraft operations by March 2021, nearly two years after the worldwide grounding following two crashes that killed 346 people. CNBC-TV18 reported that the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) will conduct independent checks and will review processes before the operation resumes in India.
The checks will be conducted after MAX receives a nod from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, sources said. “The DGCA is keenly watching the situation and shall take an appropriate call. However, the return of the aircraft is expected to take time,” officials said.