BREAKING: EASA finally ungrounds Boeing 737 MAX

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has issued the final Airworthiness Directive (AD) to unground the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in Europe.

EASA, the certification and safety authority of Europe, has ungrounded the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The agency issued an AD on January 27, 2021, outlining the final steps operators of the aircraft have to complete before the jet can once again fly passengers commercially. The steps include installing new software on the aircraft’s computers, including the Flight Control Computer (FCC), physically separating electrical wires that go from the cockpit to the horizontal stabilizer, updating the Aircraft Flight Manual (AFM), and pilots completing the new and updated training course, which includes flying in the simulator. Following the steps, airlines will have to test the new systems, including a new Angle Of Attack (AOA) system and conduct an operational readiness flight “to ensure that all design changes have been correctly implemented and the aircraft successfully and safely brought out of its long period of storage,” read the AD.

Previously, the European authority issued a Proposed Airworthiness Directive (PAD) in November 2020, shortly after the Federal Aviation Administration ungrounded the Boeing 737 MAX in the United States. The PAD invited the public to comment on the directive.

“Most of the comments that we received were on the clarity of the text and the wording. The ones on the technical issues were not deemed to be of a nature of triggering any new problem or issue, which has not been analyzed before,” stated the executive director of EASA Patrick Ky, during a hearing in front of the European Parliament on January 25, 2021.

Nevertheless, EASA outlined the differences between it and the FAA. For example, airline operators would have to install colored buttons on the stick shaker’s circuit breakers (CB) to help the flight crew to disable the stick shaker if it were to erroneously activate. Furthermore, high-precision landings with the aircraft cannot be performed, which “is expected to be a short-term restriction,” noted the European regulator.

According to Boeing Order and Deliveries data, the manufacturer so far has delivered 40 aircraft to European Union and European Economic Area (EEA)-based operators. Another 540 Boeing 737 MAX aircraft show up as unfilled orders, as of December 31, 2020.

EASA joins the aforementioned FAA, Canada’s Transport Canada (TC), Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC), Mexico’s Federal Civil Aviation Agency (AFAC) as some of the regulators that have ungrounded the Boeing 737 MAX. The aircraft was prohibited from operating commercial flights with passengers following a second fatal crash with the type in Ethiopia in March 2019.


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