EASA Ready To Approve MAX Return To Service


The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has declared the Boeing 737 MAX  is “safe” and is predicting the type will return to revenue service before the end of the year in the countries of the European Union. EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky told Bloomberg it still wants Boeing to add a third AOA sensor to the MAX, but in the meantime the changes made in the last 20 months to its flight control systems are enough. “Our analysis is showing that this is safe, and the level of safety reached is high enough for us,” Ky told Bloomberg. “What we discussed with Boeing is the fact that with the third sensor, we could reach even higher safety levels.”

The plane can’t be flown until the FAA signs off on it and the agency has set no timeline but it’s expected in the next few weeks. EASA officials flew the revised MAX in Vancouver in September and concluded the software changes focused on the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) and the training regimen for new MAX pilots will fix the control issues that ultimately led to the deaths of 346 people in two crashes in late 2018 and early 2019. FAA officials flew the MAX in August and Administrator Steve Dickson flew it in September. Dickson had positive, but not definitive, comments on its future return to service. EASA is getting ready for the FAA nod, getting all the paperwork in order in advance of the official word.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. Wow!!! Not exactly overflowing with confidence. Technology itself appears to be the problem. Simplicity will always Trump 🤓 complexity.

  2. This plane was not a problematic design. The FAA approved this aircraft for commercial service, and they didn’t pencil whip that approval. The REAL problem arose when Boeing bypassed a possible mandate by the FAA to train the crews of this plane to react to the automated features, both in simulators and in the actual aircraft. Airlines have to shoulder those expenses (Unless the manufacturer throws-in this training.) Crews have to be scheduled for sims, line checks and remedial training if necessary. In hindsight, Boeing should have thrown-in this training, but for whatever reason, the head sheds at the airlines and Boeing decided such training was not required. This is superficially similar to the DC-10 debacle. All that was needed to prevent the rear cargo door from popping open was a focus upon Loading Crews being trained to properly lock that door. Because this did not occur, hundreds of people were killed.

  3. Putting someone in the right seat with more than 230 hours total time might also help on a daily basis, and especially during abnormal or emergency operations.

    • David A. You know, it just figures. When I was tacking on ratings for an airline job (Most likely cargo or commuter at my vintage) pilot slots were almost exclusively available to military types. I was trained by military pilots, and I even demonstrated the WC-135B Nuclear Radiation Atmospheric Sampling Aircraft simulator for visitors to our base. However, I just couldn’t find work in that era. I also lost my medical (Diabetes.) Now it seems the qualifications for airline pilots are somewhat similar to your specifications. The Max design was not a troublesome plane, but it looks like the pilots were blindsided by trim runaways prompted by the automation.

  4. We all know the results that foreign carriers had with the MAX, but I would like to see (if reported) wow many times U.S. carriers have had to use the cut out switches to rectify a MCAS malfunction.

    • What would that tell you? Here again there is this implication that foreign airliners are substandard and were responsible for the accidents.

      that is clearly not the issue. Boeing made a defective product. This was not its first. Documents even implicated UL management in cutting corners and cutting safety to the bone for that extra dollar. Did we really need a crash in the US to make this point? Was not 265 souls enough?

      You don’t make a product only for the select few and try to sell it to the masses. If it needed training then *everyone* should have gotten training. If it needed two indicators at a minimum then the second should not have been an option. The pilots did not get a choice yet it was their lives, not executives, that were lost and I bet if anyone would have asked the pilots “Would you like training on this new system because it responds differently in an emergency” all four would have said yes. They were not even given that option.

      let’s stop making this US vs Them as pilots and maybe turn the eyes towards manufacturers and yes, government officials more interested lining their own pockets than ensuring a safe aircraft is delivered and used.

      • He’s got a point there. Both fatal Max mishaps occurred with Non-U.S. carriers. In fact, several recent fatal airline mishaps took place in foreign countries, and not with just Max fleets. The Atlas crash in Texas may be attributed to training that was not ‘weighted’ (You know, like in the military: they don’t give students lots of leeway to screw up. You either fly right or fly right out the door.) Worldwide airline industry expansion commenced concomitant with a dearth of qualified pilots. In the case of these carriers, they may have ‘encouraged’ their trainees too eagerly, trying to get them out on the line before they knew all the ropes.

        • Don’t rely on your third string, when you need a rope.

          Boeing supllied just enough rope for third-stringers to hang themselves.