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Boeing 737 MAX Clears Hurdle for European Operations

The march to get the Boeing 737 MAX continues, as European authorities say they have completed their test flights of the troubled airframe. Taking place in Vancouver, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency is now evaluating the data from the air trials, which will be reviewed by the Joint Operations Evaluation Board.

After months of continued data collection, the Boeing 737 MAX may be one step closer to flying passengers once again. In a press release, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) says they have completed their test flights, and is now evaluating data gathered from the trials.

737 MAX Could Return “Once We Are Convinced It Is Safe.”

Because of the stretch of the COVID-19 pandemic, European investigators opted to do their test flights in Vancouver, near Boeing’s West Coast facility in Seattle. The process started with simulator flights at London Gatwick Airport (LGW) starting Sept. 1, 2020, followed by actual test flights of the redesigned aircraft between Sept. 7 and Sept. 11, 2020.

“While Boeing still has some final actions to close off, EASA judges the overall maturity of the re-design process is now sufficient to proceed to flight tests,” the agency said prior to the tests. “These are a prerequisite for the European agency to approve the aircraft’s new design.”

With the test flights complete, the data will be analyzed and go before the Joint Operations Evaluation Board. The group will meet at London Gatwick to go over the information, and determine if and how the 737 MAX can move forward to airworthiness once more.

The EASA did not provide public comment on how the tests went, or what Boeing must complete on the aircraft to bring the 737 MAX back into service. Instead, the agency noted they were working closely with international stakeholders to determine the next steps.

“EASA has been working steadily, in close cooperation with the FAA and Boeing, to return the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to service as soon as possible,” the agency said in a statement at the conclusion of the test flights. “But only once we are convinced it is safe.”

Despite Operator Optimism, No Set Time Table for 737 MAX Return

Although there is interest by operators to bring the 737 MAX back, safety administrators on both sides of the Atlantic have not yet committed to a deadline for the airframe to re-enter fleets once again. The FAA previously put together a document of required changes, which included upgrading software systems, before the aircraft would be reconsidered for airworthiness.

Despite this, some airlines say they anticipate bringing back the 737 MAX before the end of the year. During their second quarter financial report, Southwest Airlines said they are hopeful that the aircraft could return before 2020 comes to a close.

runningandflying September 25, 2020

scary! not sure I'd be ok getting on one of these

CLTRob September 20, 2020

I’m with you Tommy! I live in a hub of an airline that will be flying the Max and also flys the B787. As much as I hate giving up the nonstop flights, I just don’t know if I can ever fly on either of these models. Moving to an airline that doesn’t fly either will require me to make a stop/connection for most of my travels.

tommygreece September 17, 2020

I will never ever get on a 737 Max. In fact, I am starting to think twice about the 787 Dreamliner as well with all the problems that have arisen. Boeing needs to get their act together.

sfoeuroflyer September 16, 2020

This is now perhaps the most fly spec'd aircraft in the world and thus will be the safest.

fartoomanyusers September 16, 2020

A bit of a clickbaity "Clears Hurdle" headline ... which is contradicted in the 2nd paragraph "may be one step closer" Completing a flight test programme doesn't count as "Clearing" anything !