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The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) reportedly expects the grounded Boeing 737 MAX to secure regulatory approval to resume flights in November.
Last month, the EASA revealed plans to commence flight tests for grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft from 7 September in Vancouver, Canada.
Although EASA expects the technical ban to be lifted ‘not long’ after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), possibly in November, operational clearances required for individual airlines to resume services in Europe could take longer, EASA executive director Patrick Ky told Reuters.
Ky added that China is expected to take longer to grant its own approval.
EASA has differences with FAA and Boeing regarding the scope of an international review into systems of the aircraft, which been involved in two fatal crashes in 2018 and 2019 that killed a total of 346 lives.
Only one of the differences has so far been resolved and EASA has drawn support from Transport Canada, and some unions in calling for pilots to manually cut power to a ‘stick shaker’ alarm system suspected to be distracting the crew of the fatal Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines aircraft.
Boeing grounded 737 MAX temporarily following these two fatal crashes since March last year.
Reuters quoted Ky as saying: “For the first time in a year and a half, I can say there’s an end in sight to work on the MAX.”
Boeing has reportedly said that inputs from the two ‘angle of attack’ sensors on the MAX will be used in the modified aircraft rather than just one unlike in the past. However, EASA has urged for a third ‘synthetic’ sensor to offer independently computed data.
Boeing is said to have agreed to install the computerised third-sensor system on 737 MAX 10, the next version of the aircraft.
Meanwhile, FAA chief Steve Dickson reportedly plans to conduct an evaluation flight at the controls of a Boeing 737 MAX this week.
In June, Dickson confirmed that Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will return only after ‘a comprehensive and rigorous review process’.
Transport Canada also completed the validation testing activities of updated Boeing 737 MAX 8 aircraft late last month.
In a separate development, US carrier American Airlines secured a $5.5bn government loan and could also receive up to $2bn more in October subject to the US Treasury allocation of extra funds under a $25bn loan package for airlines.