Following a year and half of grounding, the European aviation safety watchdog might be finally lifting the grounding of the Boeing 737 MAX sooner rather than later. The flight ban of the ill-fated airliner might even come to an end as soon as in November 2020.
European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) plans to lift its technical ban of the Boeing 737 MAX shortly after the United States Federal Aviation Administration, Reuters reported citing the agency’s executive director Patrick Ky, on September 25, 2020. However, it might take additional time for airlines that want to fly the MAX to obtain national operational clearances.
A week earlier, EASA completed its test flights of the Boeing 737 MAX in Vancouver, Canada, becoming the third aviation authority to do so. Besides the U.S. FAA, Canada’s air travel regulator Transport Canada has also performed its own series of test flights for validation of the beleaguered aircraft.
The Boeing 737 MAX was grounded after two crashes killed 346 people in October 2018 and March 2019.
While the ungrounding of the Boeing 737 MAX is moving closer to the end, aviation authorities still maintain that the airliner would only be given a green light to transport passengers once the regulators were convinced of its safety.
Following the second tragic Boeing 737 MAX crash in March 2019, both EASA and Transport Canada announced they would not follow the FAA’s lead regarding the aircraft’s return to service, as it 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 that time was suspected and later found to be the cause of both crashes ‒ after the update was completed.
The biggest Boeing 737 MAX customers in Europe are low cost carriers Norwegian Air Shuttle and Ryanair, as well as lessor AerCap. All three companies held orders for 100 airplanes each as of August 31, 2020, according to the Boeing order book.
Earlier in September 2020, Ryanair reiterated that it was looking forward to upgrading its fleet with the new Boeing 737 MAX 200 ꟷ special variant of MAX, based on the 737 MAX 8 and developed in response to the prior forecasts of the fast low-cost sector growth. The carrier, which placed its order back in 2014, had its deliveries postponed multiple times. It is now expecting to receive up to 40 737 MAX 200s by the summer 2021.