The European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) plans to clear the Boeing 737 MAX to fly again next week, 22 months after the plane was grounded after two fatal accidents.
“For us, MAX will be able to fly again from next week,” after the publication of a directive, EASA chief Patrick Ky said in a video conference.
“We have reached the point where our four main requirements have been met,” Ky said during the conference, organized by the German Association of Aviation Journalists.
MAX was founded in March 2019 after two accidents that together killed 346 people – the Lion Air disaster 2018 in Indonesia and an Ethiopian Airlines crash the following year.
Investigators said the main cause of both crashes was a faulty air handling system called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS.
Intended to keep the planet from stopping when it rises, the automatic system instead forced the planet’s nose down.
The results plunged Boeing into crisis, with more than 650 orders for the 737 MAX suspended since last year.
The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered Boeing to modernize the jet and implement new pilot training protocols before finally approving the plane for return to service in November.
Ky had already stated in October that EU approval was probably after Boeing promised that a new sensor would be added to prevent the type of problems that caused the crashes.
‘We were short’
EASA approval means that airlines around the world will once again be able to start using 737 MAX for flights to and from Europe.
Brazil has also cleared the plane of flights, and Canadian authorities said this week that approval would probably take place as soon as Wednesday.
The 737 MAX crisis, combined with decimation of air travel following the Covid-19 eruption, caused Boeing to cut tens of thousands of jobs and also triggered a leadership shake-up.
The aircraft was intended to be Boeing’s fuel efficient flagship in the highly competitive narrow body aircraft market, where its European competitor Airbus has been very successful with its A320 family of short- to medium-haul aircraft.
This month, new Boeing CEO David Calhoun acknowledged that “we fell short of our values and expectations” after the company agreed to pay $ 2.5 billion to regulate U.S. criminal charges that they defraud regulators.
Boeing also received a boost in December when Ireland’s Ryanair said it had ordered 75 more of the jets, the first major order since its inception.
The company hopes that Covid-19 vaccinations will help improve its assets this year, after Boeing delivered just 157 aircraft last year, a decline of 59 percent.
“In 2021, we will continue to take the right steps to improve our security culture, preserve liquidity and change our business for the future,” CFO Greg Smith said earlier this month.