Boeing 737 MAX safe to fly says European regulator

October 16, 2020
737 MAX
The 737 MAX on one of its test flights. Photo: Boeing.

Seeking Alpha says Europe’s top aviation regulator has said that changes made to Boeing’s 737 MAX have made the aircraft safe to return to the region’s skies.

The consultancy says that EASA is “now performing final document reviews ahead of a draft airworthiness directive it expects to issue in November, which will be followed by four weeks of public comment.”

“While the software upgrades and changes are enough to get the plane back in the air, the agency is still demanding the development of a so-called synthetic sensor (that will be ready in 20 to 24 months) to reach even higher safety levels.”

It adds that the US “FAA is also preparing to clear the plane’s return, but EASA’s view carries outsized weight given the flaws in the plane’s original certification process that dented the U.S. regulator’s reputation.”

Late last month the FAA administrator Steve Dickson was upbeat about the 737 MAX after a test flight.

A former airline pilot, Dickson is licensed to fly the 737 and flew the MAX for more than 90 minutes over Washington state after completing simulator training.

“I like what I saw on the flight,” Dickson told a media conference but cautioned that “we are not to the point yet where we have completed the process [of re-certification].”

However, while he added, “that doesn’t mean I don’t have some debrief items going forward,” these were described by him as tweaks “not so much in the procedures, but in the narrative that describes the procedures.”

WATCH Dickson flying the MAX here

The 737 MAX was grounded in March last year after two crashes related to the aircraft’s software.

In a statement, Boeing said: “We are grateful to the FAA for the rigorous process that will lead to the safe return to service of the 737 MAX. We stand ready to provide the support required to complete the remaining milestones laid out by the FAA and international regulators.”

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson piloting the 737 MAX.

READ: World’s first COVID-19 safety ratings. 

Last month the chairman of the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board endorsed the proposed safety upgrades for the 737 MAX, paving the way for the FAA to lift its ban on the 737 MAX before the end of the year.

The 737 MAX is now a virtually a new plane from the perspective of flight control and systems and has been exhaustively tested over the last 18 months.

The US FAA has employed 40 engineers, inspectors, pilots, and technical support staff in 60,000 hours of work to tick off the changes.

Those numbers are however minor compared to the effort Boeing has made to build multiple layers of protection to make the 737 MAX the safest it can possibly be.

Helping to achieve that Boeing has held 20 conferences with over 1,100 participants from 250 organizations and has involved 565 pilots from 141 airlines to gain feedback on design change