Boeing 737 MAX close to returning to fly in Europe
EASA executive director said the aircraft will be allowed to resume operations next week
EASA is expected to reissue the 737 MAX airworthiness directive next week, said executive director Patrick Ky. Unlike FAA and countries like Brazil, Canada and Mexico, the European agency demanded more time to analyze the changes made by Boeing in the jet.
According to Ky, EASA made the recertification conditional on the resolution of the problems that caused the accidents, approval of critical safety components and training of pilots for the new procedures implanted in the aircraft. The European authority also requested that the internal wiring be reconfigured.
“We are confident that those four pre-requisites have been met,” says the director. One of the differences in the European authorization is that pilots can disable the stick-shaker warning if they have identified the reason for a failure of the angle of attack sensor (AOA).
As it was discovered in the accident investigations, a failure in the reading performed by the MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System) caused the 737 MAX to increase its angle of attack without the pilots being able to correct the erratic behavior, causing stalling and the plane crashing.
EASA no longer required the installation of a third AOA sensor after consulting Boeing and FAA, the US civil aviation agency. The 737 MAX had only one device and now it has a second sensor to answer questions, but the European agency considered a third device as a way to resolve doubts.
However, Boeing convinced EASA that one more sensor would be difficult to install and instead proposed to develop a synthetic sensor that will calculate the angle of attack in case of different readings between the two external probes. This new software is expected to debut in 2022 on board the first 737 MAX 10, the largest variant of the jet.
European airlines costumer of the 737 MAX include Icelandair (6 aircraft), LOT (5), Norwegian Air (18), TUI (15), Smartwings (7) and Turkish Airlines (12).
The major customer of the 737 MAX in Europe will be Ryanair, one of the largest low-cost in the world and which was about to receive its first planes shortly before the ground, in 2019. The Irish airline has 210 firm orders for the 737 MAX 8- 200, high density variant of the jet.
EASA said it is preparing to certify this version, which should allow Ryanair to start flying the 737 MAX in the Summer.