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EASA Sets Requirements for 737 MAX Return

EASA Sets Requirements for 737 MAX Return
Joe Cortez

Less than one week since the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration un-grounded the Boeing 737 MAX, their European counterparts are setting the stage for the troubled aircraft’s return. The European Union Aviation Safety Agency published a draft airworthiness directive, in which the regulator suggests changes to the MCAS system and a new training program.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has released its list of changes to the troubled Boeing 737 MAX before it will un-ground the aircraft for commercial use over European skies. The regulator published their proposed airworthiness directive, with the goal of re-certifying the aircraft “within a matter of weeks.”

Proposed Changes Include MCAS System, Mandatory Test Systems and New Tests

The proposed airworthiness directive closely follows one issued by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration on Nov. 18, 2020. In the 19-page document, the agency calls for fixes to the flight control computer and MCAS, a software update to display an alert if there is a disagreement between the Angle of Attack (AoA) sensors, along with wiring changes. The goal is to prevent software or technical differences between the U.S. and European based aircraft, allowing for seamless operations on both sides of the ocean.

However, there are two key differences between the FAA’s airworthiness directive and the one issued by the EASA. First, pilots are allowed to intervene on stick shaker alerts if they have been falsely activated by the system to prevent cockpit distractions. Second, the agency wants operators to turn off the autopilot for certain high-precision landings. The second restriction may be a short-term issue until the aircraft is proven through evaluation flights.

Before carrying passengers again, pilots must complete extensive training in the limited number of 737 MAX simulators available across Europe. Because the airworthiness directive is expected to become policy by January 2021, the agency says that training can begin immediately. In addition, each individual aircraft must go through an operational readiness flight to ensure that each aircraft has the corrections completed and can safely be brought out of long-term storage.

“I am confident that we have left no stone unturned in our assessment of the aircraft with its changed design approach,” EASA executive director Patrick Ky said in a press release. “Each time when it may have appeared that problems were resolved, we dug deeper and asked even more questions. The result was a thorough and comprehensive review of how this plane flies and what it is like for a pilot to fly the MAX, giving us the assurance that it is now safe to fly.”

EASA Must Resolve Issues with Member Countries Before Universally Operating Above Europe

However, not all countries are 100 percent satisfied with the results. The EASA notes that some members states, such as Germany, “issued their own decision prohibiting the operation of the 737 MAX last year for their sovereign airspace.” Before they can operate over their nations, the individual ground orders must be lifted.

The public comment period on the 737 MAX is open for 28 days, ending Dec. 21, 2020. Public comments on the FAA’s version ranged from requesting additional changes, to demanding an complete overhaul of the airframe.

View Comments (2)

2 Comments

  1. Dublin_rfk

    November 24, 2020 at 6:00 pm

    Basically EASA wants aviators behind the stick and not bus drivers.

  2. AsiaTravel2019

    November 29, 2020 at 9:46 am

    This will be the safest aircraft in the sky

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