BoeingThe 737 Max aircraft has been given the green light to return to the skies in the UK and the EU, after being immobilized for 22 months following two fatal crashes.

The UK’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) announced on Wednesday that it had lifted the ban on the 737 Max in UK airspace and that UK airlines would be allowed to fly it, shortly after the European Union The Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) also issued its final approval. However, the CAA stressed that the pilot training requirements meant that it would be some time before the plane took off in the UK.

Marking of a crucial step in its return to service, a modified version of the US company’s best-selling aircraft was allowed to fly again, but not until a set of checks and training was completed.

Regulatory approvals arrived the same day as Boeing revealed a net loss of $ 11.9 billion (£ 8.7 billion) for 2020, the largest in its history as the coronavirus pandemic and the 737 Max resulted in a 24% drop in revenue.

Richard Moriarty, CEO of CAA, said, “Our thoughts remain with those affected by the tragic Boeing 737 Max crashes. This is not a decision we have taken lightly and we would not have authorized a return to service for UK operators, or lifted the ban on aircraft operating in UK airspace, unless we did ‘have been convinced that the aircraft type is airworthy and can be operated safely. . “

The CAA took over responsibility for overseeing UK airspace after the UK left the EU on December 31. The CAA said the 737 Max would be “under close surveillance” once it returns.

Two British Isles airlines have 737 Max planes in their fleets: Irish carrier Ryanair and Anglo-German travel company Tui. British Airways said so plans to buy 200 aircraft, but has not yet placed a firm order.

Tui said he would allow customers to change flights for free if they feel uncomfortable flying on the plane. Ryanair will allow customers to switch from flights using the 737 Max to the next available flight during the re-approved aircraft’s first three months of operation, having previously said it would not be able to offer the facility.

Regulators have said every 737 Max aircraft should undergo software upgrades, an electrical system overhaul, maintenance checks, operations manual updates and crew training before returning to service. .

As a result, in the EU, each aircraft will have to undergo an Airworthiness Directive update, which will be scheduled by aircraft operators and overseen by the national aviation authority of each of the 27 member states of the EU. ‘EU, which means that it may also be some time before the 737 Max starts up again. Europe.

What did Boeing fix?

EASA and CAA followed in the in the footsteps of regulators in the United States and Brazil granting approval to the modified 737 Max. The decision to give its approval was “an important step on a long road,” EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky said, adding that the regulator had not come under any pressure from Boeing or others to do so.

“This assessment was carried out at arm’s length from Boeing or the Federal Aviation Administration and without any economic or political pressure – we asked tough questions until we got answers and pushed for solutions that meet our expectations. strict security requirements, ”Ky said.

The 737 Max was grounded around the world in March 2019 after two plane crashes in the space of six months killed a total of 346 people in Indonesia and Ethiopia. The crashes were in part caused by a faulty sensor that repeatedly triggered a system, called MCAS, which stuck in the noses of planes.

Naoise Connolly Ryan, whose husband Mick died in the Ethiopian Airlines crash, said the families of the victims were not satisfied that they had been fully informed of what had happened or why. Some families opposed the re-approval of the 737 Max.

“In the end, we are more determined than ever to find out exactly what Boeing knew about this dangerous aircraft and to hold them responsible for the deaths of our loved ones,” she said.

A Boeing spokesperson said the lessons learned from the accidents had “reshaped our business and focused more on our core values ​​of safety, quality and integrity,” and said the company would continue to work closely. collaboration with regulators.

This article was last modified on January 28, 2021. A previous version stated that Ryanair would not let customers change flights using the 737 Max. Ryanair has changed its policy to allow flight changes during the first three months of operation of the 737 Max.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.