The European Union Aviation Safety Agency has confirmed that, independent of the U.S.’s Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), it anticipates lifting the grounding order on the troubled Boeing 737 MAX and certifying it as safe to take to the skies again by mid-January 2021.
“We wanted to carry out a totally independent analysis of the safety of this aircraft, so we performed our own checks and flight tests,” EASA’s Executive Director Patrick Ky told the Paris Air Forum, an online aviation conference. “All these studies tell us that the 737 MAX can return to service. We have started to put in place all the measures,” he said. “It is likely that in our case we will adopt the decisions, allowing it to return to service, sometime in January.”
The EASA will publish a draft directive proposing the lifting of the grounding order next week, after which there will be a 30-day period for comments. The result should see the official lifting of the grounding order in mid-January 2021. Together with Norway and the U.K., the EASA represents 27 countries of the European Union.
The FAA’s certification process came in for a high degree of criticism and the EASA’s certification process is seen as carrying significant influence in the aviation industry. “It is clear that there were a number of dysfunctions in (FAA) actions and their relations with Boeing,” Ky said, according to Reuters news agency. “I won’t go into details as it is not up to me to do that. The FAA is in the process of putting in place corrective measures.”
Ky also said that the EASA would change some of its own methods and take a more detailed role in analyzing critical features in foreign jets. It would also be “more intransigent” about ensuring that key safety reviews are completed before moving on to the next steps.