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Boeing: European Union allows 737 MAX back into European skies

Boeing: European Union allows  737 MAX back into European skies

The 737 MAX was grounded globally in March 2019, following two fatal crashes, one in Indonesia and the other in Africa killing 346 passengers and crew.

Boeing have spent just shy of 2 years, and more money than I can imagine sorting out the issues involved in putting a bigger engine on an old air frame design, and then trying to overcome the inherent problems of this with a faulty software program, that it failed to tell pilots about.

Approvals so far

Boeing has already gained approval from the USA’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), not without the embarrassment of an appearance before Congress and the loss of a CEO, however.

Yesterday the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) gave its approval for the 737 MAX to return to the skies. However it comes with some mandated conditions . . .

  • Software updates for the flight control computer, including the MCAS – which was the centre of all the software problems
  • Software updates to display an alert when the two ‘angle of attack’ sensors don’t agree
  • Separation of wires routed from the cockpit to the stabilizer trim motor
  • Flight manuals updated explaining operational limitations of the aircraft and procedures so pilots can understand and manage possible failure scenarios
  • Mandatory training for 737 MAX pilots before they fly the plane again
  • Mandatory tests of the angle of attack sensor system
  • Conducting of an operational readiness flight, sans passengers, prior to comercial flights for each aircraft to so that all design changes required can be checked
  • All aircraft to be safely returned to airworthyness after their long period of storage

The FAA and the EASA may agree on letting the aircraft back in the air, but they don’t particularly agree on their set of recommendations.

a close-up of a jet engine

2PAXfly Takeout

This is another timely reminder to wear your seatbelt when seated. Holding you close to your seat will protect you from the sort of injuries sustained on this flight, when unsecured passengers flew to the ceiling of the aircraft, and then came crashing down once the ‘drop’ ceased.

The hope will be that this is an anomaly – a ‘freak accident’ in casual parlance. If it is a systemic error either mechanical or electronic, then this is a larger concern for the airlines that fly Boeing Dreamliner 787 aircraft. Let’s hope it isn’t. If it is, it will pile on the woes to Boeing’s existing stack.

This is good news for Boeing. Remember they are fighting on a few fronts: most of their aircraft arn’t flying; no one is buying their planes; everyone is delaying or cancelling their orders and shareholders aren’t happy, not to mention the families of the passengers and crew they killed.

It was not a foregone conclusion that the European authorities would follow the FAA’s lead on the 737 MAX. Remember, one of the problems discovered in the investigation process was that the Federal Aviation Administration were a little too cosy with Boeing, with the FAA allowing the aircraft manufacturer a bit too much ‘self-regulation’.

The proof of allowing the &#& MAX back in the air will come with passenger acceptance. Many travellers have vowed never to fly in the plane, and some airlines are even allowing passengers to rebook with no penalty should they be scheduled on a flight using the MAX.

Personally, I’ll be letting it clock up a few airmiles before I willingly book myself on this plane. However, being in Australia, with international borders closed, its unlikely I will have the chance to book a flight on what was the 737 MAX 8, that is now being rebranded as the 737-8 by Boeing.

Mind you back in April 2019 Alan Joyce had already heralded the possible cost savings in picking up a few of the planes on the cheap . . .

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