After nearly 18 months of being grounded, things are looking up for Boeing’s 737 MAX. The European aviation safety watchdog, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), is apparently on the verge of lifting the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX sooner than analysts predicted. The flight ban of the MAX may well be brought to an end in November.
EASA intends to remove the technical ban of the Boeing 737 MAX shortly after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) does so, reports Reuters, citing the agency’s Executive Director, Patrick Ky, on 25 September. But it might take longer for airlines that want to operate the MAX in order to obtain national operational clearances.
Seven days earlier, EASA completed its flight tests of the 737 MAX in Vancouver, Canada, becoming the third aviation authority to do so. Along with the FAA, Canada’s air travel regulator Transport Canada has also performed its own series of test flights for validation of the troubled aircraft.
As the ungrounding of the Boeing 737 MAX moves closer, aviation authorities still maintain that the airliner will only be given the green light to carry passengers once regulators are convinced of its safety.
After the second crash of the 737 MAX in March 2019, both EASA and Transport Canada announced they would not follow the FAA’s lead regarding the aircraft’s service, as had been custom prior to the MAX crisis. Instead, both authorities said they would run their own independent reviews of the aircraft software – that at the time was suspected and later found to be the cause of both crashes – once the update was completed.
The largest MAX customers in Europe are low-fare carriers Norwegian Air Shuttle and Ryanair, as well as lessor AerCap, with nearly 100 examples on order.
Ryanair has stated that it intends to upgrade its fleet with the new 737 MAX 200, which is based on the 737 MAX 8 and has been developed to cater for the predicted growth in low-cost sector travel. Although the order was placed back in 2014 and has been postponed, the new model is expected now to enter service in the summer of 2021, when it’s predicted that the MAX will be back with widespread service.