The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has said that it expects to lift the Boeing 737 MAX ban next week. The head of the EU regulator commented in a briefing today that the Airworthiness Directive is due to be published next week, giving the aircraft clearance to fly in European airspace.
MAX to get green light in Europe next week
The Boeing 737 MAX is making a slow but sure comeback to the skies, as a number of aviation regulators have now approved the type for passenger service. The first to issue approvals was the US regulator, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Shortly after, Brazil’s ANAC followed suit, paving the way for GOL to operate the first passenger flight since the 20-month long grounding.
Tomorrow, Canada’s regulator is expected to lift the grounding order too, with airlines already making plans to return to the type to service. Now, it seems yet another part of the world will be added to the list of places Boeing’s narrowbody is approved to fly.
Speaking at an online briefing today, Executive Director of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Patrick Ky said that the regulator is expecting to approve the type for service next week. As reported by Reuters, he said,
“We expect to publish it [the Airworthiness Directive] next week, which means the MAX will be cleared to fly again.”
EASA had previously drafted an Airworthiness Directive for the MAX back in November. At the time, Ky said he believed it to be a safe airplane. Following weeks of public consultation, which has resulted in little more than presentational changes, it seems he is ready to formally lift the ban.
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Good news for airlines
The lifting of the ban will come as excellent news for Europe’s operators. Some of the biggest operators in Europe include Norwegian, which had a fleet of 18 at the time of the grounding, TUI Group with 14 and Turkish Airlines with 12.
Other European airlines had orders in for significant numbers of the type, particularly Ryanair, who upped its order by 75 to bring its total to 210 aircraft at the tail end of 2020. However, Ryanair’s MAXs are slightly different.
Specifying more passenger capacity, Ryanair’s 737 MAX aircraft will require some modifications from the original design. In order to accommodate up to 200 seats, this variant will require an additional overwing exit door, meaning it requires additional certification.
There’s still work to do on this at Boeing’s end, but the 737 MAX-200, as it is called, will also be approved by EASA “in the coming weeks,” according to Ky. This would allow Ryanair and its Group airlines to begin using the new, high-efficiency narrowbody in time for the summer season.
And it’s not just European airlines that will be glad to hear this news. Both Air Canada and WestJet have already scheduled transatlantic flights using the MAX from March onwards, ahead of their regulator’s approval. EASA’s publication of the MAX Airworthiness Directive will be the confirmation they need to firm up bookings on their seven-hour hops.
Are you pleased to see the MAX back again? Let us know in the comments.