Today was another big day for the Boeing 737 MAX in Europe. Smartwings became the second operator to resume flights with the type following its recertification by EASA, following TUI’s Belgian subsidiary last week.
Since being ungrounded by the Federal Aviation Administration, countries and airlines worldwide have been ungrounding the latest generation of Boeing’s popular narrowbody. This has so far been mainly focused on North and South America. However, with both Europe and the United Arab Emirates also having ungrounded the type, the type’s global rollout is starting to gain traction.
Smartwings’ Boeing 737 MAX back in the skies
Today Smartwings became the second airline to resume 737 MAX flights for passengers in Europe. The airline’s inaugural MAX return flight saw it flying from its Prague (PRG) hub in Czechia to Malaga (AGP) in Spain. Interestingly, TUI’s first MAX flight post grounding was also to Malaga.
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Flight QS1152 departed from Prague at 16:19, one minute ahead of schedule. The flight was planned to last three hours and 25 minutes, covering a distance of 2116km in the meantime, according to data from RadarBox.com. However, it seems as though the winds were in the airline’s favor, as the plane touched down in Malaga early at 19:24.
The airline operated the flight with OK-SWE, a two-year-old 737 MAX aircraft. Before returning to service for the airline, the aircraft conducted a one-hour and 20-minute test flight. This included a go-around before the aircraft landed. That flight took place yesterday morning before the aircraft returned to service today. Smartwings carried out the test flight after the airline implemented the modifications required by EASA.
The aircraft was flown by the airline’s Head of Flight Operations, Captain Tomáš Nevole. He commented,
“We have been working with EASA and the manufacturer continuously for nearly two years to bring this aircraft safely back to operation. I have confidence in the upgrades and training methods to enable a return of this aircraft into operation. I fully trust Boeing 737 MAX and I consider it as one of the safest airplanes.”
What changes did EASA require to the aircraft?
When EASA recertified the MAX a month ago, it issued an Airworthiness directive requiring several changes to be implemented before the MAX returns to service. These included,
- Flight Control software updates.
- Angle of attack sensor disagreement software updates.
- Physical separation of stabilizer trim motor wires.
- Updates to flight manuals, including failure scenarios.
- Mandatory training of all 737 MAX pilots.
- Systems tests, including the angle of attack system.
- As mentioned earlier, a test flight.
Unlike the FAA, EASA allows pilots to deactivate the stick shaker while temporarily banning certain types of high-precision landings.
What do you make of the return of Smartwings’ Boeing 737 MAX? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!