The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) on Wednesday gave its official green light for the return to flight in the European sky of the Boeing 737 MAX, grounded for 22 months after two fatal accidents.
“After a thorough analysis by EASA, we have determined that the 737 MAX can be safely returned to service. This assessment was carried out at arm’s length from Boeing or the Federal Aviation Administration (the American FAA, Editor’s note) and without any economic or political pressure, “said EASA executive director Patrick Ky, quoted in a press release.
According to the Agency, it may take some time for the aircraft to actually resume carrying passengers, as a number of conditions must first be met. Software updates must be made, pilots must be trained and indeed a test flight must be carried out with each aircraft without passengers.
The 737 MAX, of which the Belgian airline TUI Fly has several models in its fleet, had been grounded since March 2019 after two accidents that killed 346 people in the space of five months, first in Indonesia and then in Ethiopia. After the second accident, flights with the plane were banned worldwide. The investigation found that the disasters were due to a failure of the security system (MCAS), which repeatedly pushed the noses of planes down. This flaw has been corrected by a software update.
In November, it was the FAA, the US aviation agency, which also re-authorized the flight of the Boeing 737 MAXs. It was then the Brazilian and Canadian authorities who took similar decisions.
Never in the history of commercial aviation has an aircraft been denied permission to take to the air for so long (20 months) by the relevant authorities.