Boeing‘s troubled 737 MAX jet could be cleared within weeks to return to European skies after a nearly two-year grounding over two deadly crashes in which 346 people have lost their lives.
European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) published a proposed Boeing 737 MAX airworthiness directive this week that opens a 28-day public consultation period after which the agency will review the input and then approve the aircraft for flight.
According to EASA, the step signals “its intention to approve the aircraft to return to Europe’s skies within a matter of weeks.”
The move by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency follows last week’s flight clearance for the 737 MAX in the US by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). FAA chief Stephen Dickson said that he was “100 percent comfortable with [his] family flying on it.”
EASA’s Executive Director Patrick Ky said in a statement on Tuesday: “EASA made clear from the outset that we would conduct our own objective and independent assessment of the 737 MAX, working closely with the FAA and Boeing, to make sure that there can be no repeat of these tragic accidents, which touched the lives of so many people.
“I am confident that we have left no stone unturned in our assessment of the aircraft with its changed design approach,” he added.
According to EASA, the “fundamental problem” of the 737’s new software function program, which was intended to make the aircraft easier to handle, was that many pilots did not even know it was there.
Regulators grounded the troubled Boeing aircraft worldwide in March 2019, after two almost-new 737 MAX planes crashed within five months of one another. The crashes, which occurred in Indonesia and Ethiopia, killed all 346 people on board. They prompted a lengthy safety review that was met by numerous delays, driving up losses and costs for Boeing.
In both crashes, the new flight control software caused the aircraft to unexpectedly nosedive shortly after takeoff.