The head of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has said that the Boeing 737 Max is scheduled to receive final clearance next week.
According to EASA executive director Patrick Ky, the Boeing 737 Max aircraft will get final clearance to resume flying in Europe next week. The plane has been grounded since March 2019 following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people.
The accidents have been attributed to flawed flight control software aboard the planes.
Since the Ethiopian Airlines crash, the EASA has been conducting a root-and-branch review of the 737 Max’s design independently but similar to that undertaken by the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
According to the EASA, the Boeing 737 Max planes are required to new computer software in order to return to service, as well as undergo changes to their wiring and cockpit instrumentation.
Pilots who will fly these planes will also be mandated to undergo additional training while individual planes will be subjected to a test flight to make sure that the changes have been undertaken correctly.
Last November, the FAA granted clearance to the Boeing 737 Max aircraft and lifted grounding orders. However, existing planes will need to be modified before going back into service.
The required modifications include design, software and wiring changes, as well as additional training for pilots.
According to the FAA, the design changes it had required “have eliminated what caused these particular accidents”. FAA Administrator Steve Dickson said: “We’ve done everything humanly possible to make sure” these types of crashes do not happen again.”
Boeing chief executive officer (CEO) Dave Calhoun mentioned that aside from the required improvements to the 737 Max, the aircraft maker had also strengthened its safety practices and culture since the crashes.
Calhoun, who took the reins from Dennis Muilenburg last year, said: “We will never forget the lives lost in the two tragic accidents that led to the decision to suspend operations.”
“These events and the lessons we have learned as a result have reshaped our company and further focused our attention on our core values of safety, quality and integrity,” the Boeing chief added.
Some people expressed disappointment over the decision while others said they did not have confidence in Boeing or the regulators, particularly the families of those killed on the crashes.
Paul Njoroge, whose wife, three children and mother-in-law were killed in the Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 crash, said: “Who’s going to believe them? Not me.”
GOL first to resume flights
Meanwhile, in December, Brazilian airline GOL announced that it will be resuming passenger flights using the troubled Boeing 737 Max aircraft. GOL will become the first airline to resume Boeing 737 Max flights after the aircraft was grounded.
According to GOL, the largest domestic airline in Brazil, the Boeing 737 plane will be used on routes to and from its hub in the city of Sao Paulo. However, the carrier did not specify which specific route will be used for the first flights.
The airline also noted that passengers will be notified if their flight will be flown on the 737 Max and will have the option to have their tickets exchanged for flights using other planes if they refuse to fly on the 737 Max.