Australia lifts suspension on 737 MAX flights

February 26, 2021
737 MAX
Single-aisle aircraft such as the 737 MAX will continue to be the biggest market segment. Image: Boeing

Australia has joined a growing list of countries to approve operations of the Boeing 737 MAX.

The countries safety regulator the Civil Aviation Safety Bureau lifted the ban Friday, February 26, 2021 for operations to or from Australia.

CASA said that while no Australian airlines currently operate the Boeing 737 MAX, two foreign airlines flew these aircraft types to Australia before the COVID-19 pandemic – Singapore-based SilkAir (now Singapore Airlines) and Fiji Airways.

Both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) recently issued a return to service airworthiness directives for the Boeing 737 MAX.

CASA’s Acting CEO and Director of Aviation Safety, Graeme Crawford said the initial suspension had been in the best interests of aviation safety.

“CASA was one of the first civil aviation regulators in the world to suspend Boeing 737 MAX operations. We took early action based on the information we had to ensure our skies remained safe while the cause of the accidents was investigated,” Mr. Crawford said.

“We have accepted the comprehensive return-to-service requirements specified by the FAA as State of Design for the 737 MAX and are confident that the aircraft is safe.

“Our airworthiness and engineering team has assessed there is no additional return to service requirements for operation in Australia.

“With COVID-19 continuing to disrupt international air travel, there is currently no indication when Singapore airlines and Fiji Airways will resume their operations to Australia.”

For the recertification of the 737 MAX Boeing undertook 391,000 engineering and software man-hours, 1,847 simulator hours, and 3000 flight hours.

Eighty airlines and 12 aviation regulators or organizations, including NASA were involved.

The result of that global extraordinary effort is an aircraft that is as safe as the industry can make it and reflects the watershed that these accidents are for aviation.

In fact, Boeing and the regulatory team have put in new features designed to prevent incidents that have never happened.

Key to the recertification has been Boeing’s engineering analysis of every system, not just the Manoeuvring Characteristics Augmentation System or MCAS, which is a control law within the flight control system.

The MCAS system, responding to erroneous data from a single faulty sensor, sent the Lion Air and Ethiopian 737s into a dive and the pilots did not respond as expected.

Boeing has gone through a very extensive Fault Tree Analysis of the entire flight control system and making additional changes well beyond those requested.