The 737-MAX may become the safest plane in the skies in the coming years, but that doesn’t mean people won’t continue trying to avoid it. Moral objections, doubts on the recertification process and the benefit of choice are commonly quoted reasons.
After two horrific crashes which killed 346 people were attributed to faulty software, the 737-MAX, the breadwinner for Boeing’s short haul fleet, and future of many short haul airlines around the world was grounded worldwide, but now it’s been re-certified to fly.
The United States and Brazil were the first to reintroduce the plane at the end of 2020, and the MAX is already flying commercial passengers in the USA once again. But now, Europe could see the return of the aircraft with flights as early as next week, as EASA officials agree on final measures.
Europe’s Final Clearance Of 737-MAX
The EASA, Europe’s aviation regulator, is set to give final approval to the 737-MAX. The agency will offer similar recommendations made by US authorities in demanding that software fixes are installed on the 737-MAX, along with a wide host of changes to help pilots.
Key re-certification issues focused around changes to the MCAS system, which has been cited in crash investigations as a contributing factor, but authorities say further inspections were also carried out on the entire aircraft to assure airworthiness in the future.
Pilots will also be retrained specifically for the new 737-MAX protocols introduced, and each aircraft must undergo a test flight before welcoming passengers to confirm full compliance with the new EASA directives.
Even with all the run up, Europe’s 737-MAX equipped airlines will see a return to service before you know it.
European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) boss Patrick Ky told reporters the plane will be cleared into service by early next week, removing the final hurdle for airlines to begin immediate service.
Boeing and airlines which operate the plane will have enacted most, if not all changes, by the time the plane is cleared, allowing for flights to take off as early as next week, whether they do or not.
Each airline will resume MAX operations according to need, but don’t be surprised to see the plane appear on bookings shortly. Don’t forget, there are a variety of ways to avoid the plane entirely.
So who will be flying the 737-MAX around Europe, once the all clear is given?
An update from Icelandair states they plan to fly the plane by the “spring of 2021”. Norwegian, which recently shuttered long haul flying, will have 18 already delivered 737-MAX planes for potential European use. Turkish Airlines will also have circa 15 of the 737-MAX ready to go, but Turkey is yet to re-certify the plane.
Ryanair aims to have 30-40 Boeing 737-MAX planes in service across Europe by summer, and Ryanair CEO Eddie Wilson was quoted in Irish media stating the planes would be launched on “UK flights” initially. TUI will be another significant operator, and TUI Germany is believed to be one of the first airlines readying their pilots and MAX fleet for a swift reentry into service.
Like it or not, the 737-MAX will be back in the skies over Europe within months, if not weeks. When the EASA issues its final safety approval for a return to service next week, it’s all up to the airlines.
Early adopters in the USA, including American and United have offered flexibility for customers who wish to opt out, and one can only hope Europe’s many airlines do the same in the early days. At the very least, it would be nice if they clearly label and notify passengers.