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EU to Recertify 737 MAX in November

Sept. 27, 2020
The head of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency revealed that regulatory body has resolved most of its objections to the 737 MAX's flight-control programming, and will issue an airworthiness directive next month, after the FAA releases its own.

Boeing's 737 MAX aircraft could return to commercial service by the end of 2020, according to comments by the executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency. EASA completed a series of test flights of the revamped narrow-body aircraft on September 10, and Patrick Ky indicated on September 25 that the agency will lift its flight restriction on the 737 MAX in November, after the Federal Aviation Administration has done the same.

The 737 MAX is grounded worldwide following the second of two crashes in March 2019, which together killed a total of 346 passengers and crew members. Boeing halted deliveries of its best-selling jet series at that time, and during the following 18 months it has revised the flight-control program cited as the cause of the two crashes. The OEM has said it hopes to gain approval from FAA and other regulatory agencies to before the end of 2020.

FAA is collaborating with EASA and air-safety authorities around the world as it works toward issuing a "Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) for an Airworthiness Directive (AD)" that will allow individual airlines to reintroduce service with 737 MAX jets. The AD will include a summary of corrective actions required of operators before the jets may re-enter commercial service — including the updated Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) and a revised training program for crew members.

FAA also plans a 45-days public-comment period for assessing the design and procedure changes developed to address the earlier design flaws.

Ky revealed that EASA has resolved most of its objections to the 737 MAX flight-control program, objections traced to the black-box data collected from the two crashes which indicated that one of the aircraft's flight-angle sensors initiated a control function pointing into a dive that the crews were unable to override.  According to Boeing, inputs from two “angle of attack” sensors will be referenced in the updated 737 MAX control program aircraft, not one as in the earlier version. Reportedly, EASA has indicated that data from a third, "independent" sensor should be included in the MCAS reference data.

According to Ky, Boeing agreed to install the three-sensor system on the forthcoming 737 MAX 10 version of the jets, and then to retrofit other 737 MAX aircraft.

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