Boeing 737 Max could return to European skies this summer with the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) set to publish an airworthiness directive on the aircraft next week.
The 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 following crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia which killed 346 passengers and crew. Faulty sensors were found to be a contributing factor in both crashes, these triggered a MCAS system which pushed the nose down.
MAX has already been cleared in the US and Brazil
Patrick Ky, the executive director of the EASA said it would publish an updated airworthiness directive next week. The European regulator carried out its own tests on the MAX’s parts and systems – previously it had relied on the US Federal Aviation Administration.
The Boeing 737 MAX has already been cleared for flight by regulators in the US and Brazil and has already entered commercial service.
The aircraft will be able to return to service in Europe following changes in operating software and rewiring of some components. Pilots will also have to be trained on the changes to the aircraft.
Ryanair has placed a firm order for 75 additional 737 MAX aircraft, increasing its order book from 135 to 210 jets. The new modification of the aircraft is likely to be certified and ready for service by summer.
MAX to be re-certified by Civil Aviation Authority
Following Brexit, the UK’s aviation regulator the Civil Aviation Authority will also have to grant approval for the MAX’s return to the skies in the UK. The CAA will be making its own independent decision while sticking close to EASA’ds directive, with which the UK regulator was involved.
TUI is the only airline with 737 MAX jets registered in the UK although the operator has halted flights due to the COVID-19 pandemic until at least mid-February.
The CAA has hired 47 new staff to cope with its expanded responsibilities. ADS estimates that it will take a decade and up to £40m annually for the regulator to get up to speed with EASA, compared with a prior contribution of around £4 million pounds a year.