The European Safety Agency’s (EASA) top regulator has announced the Boeing 737 MAX can be back to the skies “sometime in January,” according to Reuters.
On November 18th, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) was the first to lift the Boeing 737 MAX , ban put into effect in March 2019 after two deadly crashes that had killed 326 people.
“We wanted to carry out a totally independent analysis of the safety of this aircraft, so we performed our own checks and flight tests,” said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky during an online aviation conference called Paris Air Forum.
He also added: “All these studies tell us that the 737 MAX can return to service. We have started to put in place all the measures. It is likely that in our case, we will adopt the decisions, allowing it to return to service sometime in January.” Ky confirmed that an overhaul of the faulty flight control system on the MAX “had met the watchdog’s requirements.
A draft EASA directive outlining the process of resuming flights on 737 MAX in Europe will be published next week, bringing closer the final ungrounding decision due in January. It is still unclear how long it will take for the situation to stabilize as extensive pilot training and software upgrades will have to be ensured, dictated by the EASA mandate.
EASA’s decision is of major importance since, just like the FAA, it also carries substantial weight in the aviation industry. EASA represents the 27 EU countries and four non-EU countries, including Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein, and Switzerland. It is a single regulatory authority for the air operations in the listed countries.
The jetliner’s grounding came at the cost of $19bn based on the company’s estimations, putting its rival Airbus to the forefront. In January 2020, Boeing reported its first loss in more than 20 years – $636m.