- The European aviation regulator says the Boeing 737 Max is safe to return to the skies. The FAA, which is Boeing’s main regulator, has not committed itself until the 737 Max will be able to fly again.
- And American Airlines has just announced plans to fly 737 Max between Miami and New York on December 29.
- The 737 Max was grounded in March 2019, after two crashes that killed 346 people. Authorities around the world, including the FAA, are reviewing the design and safety features of the 737 Max.
- Boeing completed its first recertification test in June this year.
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The Boeing 737 Max, an update to the 737, first announced in 201
Since grounding the aircraft, Boeing has been working on a complete redesign of the aircraft’s flight software.
On Friday, Patrick Kay, executive director of the European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency, told Bloomberg that he was pleased with the changes Boeing had made to the plane. Ky added that the 737 Max could start flying in Europe before the end of 2020.
American Airlines announced on Sunday its plans to fly 737 Max between Miami and New York from December 29 to January 4. The airline said it was taking a “step-by-step approach” and did not confirm whether it would continue to use the aircraft after that period. American Airlines’ plans depend on a green light from the Federal Aviation Administration, which has not yet committed to a 737 Max approval schedule.
Considered a more economical version of the 737 consumer aircraft, the 737 Max is said to have greater range, lower operating costs and enough in common with previous models to allow pilots to switch seamlessly between the two.
The crashes also called into question Boeing’s training practices. At the time of launch, the pilots only had to take a short course based on tablets, instead of training in a simulator, as they would for a new aircraft.
The so-called synthetic sensor, a software update requested by EASA in 2019, has not yet been implemented by Boeing and is not expected to be ready for another two years. But EASA says the plane currently meets safety standards, and the “third sensor” will meet even higher levels of safety.
The FAA is Boeing’s main regulator, and under international law, the 737 Max will not be able to fly until the FAA allows it. In June, Boeing completed its first flight test for recertification, one of the many steps needed before the aircraft can return to service.
Several federal investigations are underway that are looking at the design of the aircraft as part of efforts to determine how it was first allowed to be certified and whether there was criminal negligence behind the design. The aftermath of the crash ultimately cost then-CEO Denis Muylenburg his work.
Meanwhile, Boeing is currently seeking to settle lawsuits filed by the families of those killed in the second of two fatal crashes. An Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed to the ground in March 2019, killing all 157 people on board.
Boeing has largely dealt with cases from the earlier October 2018 crash of the 737 Max, operated by Indonesia’s Lion Air, which killed 189 people.
But in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, Boeing has taken a “scorched earth” approach, unlike Lion Air, Business Insider reports.
A lawyer involved in the case said Boeing’s lawyers refused to provide evidence that the victims’ representatives had requested. Boeing says it has taken its responsibility to provide evidence “seriously”.
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