Travel Industry News at TravelNewsAsia.com since 1997. Interviews, podcasts, videos, pictures and more
Thu, 28 January 2021

EASA Gives Green Light to B737 MAX; Boeing Agrees to Make More Changes

(28 Jan 2021) The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has given its seal of approval for the return to service of a modified version of the Boeing 737 MAX, mandating a package of software upgrades, electrical working rework, maintenance checks, operations manual updates and crew training which will allow the plane to fly safely in European skies after almost two years on the ground.

We have reached a significant milestone on a long road, said EASA Executive Director Patrick Ky. Following extensive analysis by EASA, we have determined that the 737 MAX can safely return to service. This assessment was carried out in full independence of Boeing or the Federal Aviation Administration and without any economic or political pressure we asked difficult questions until we got answers and pushed for solutions which satisfied our exacting safety requirements. We carried out our own flight tests and simulator sessions and did not rely on others to do this for us.

Boeing 737 MAX 7. Picture by Steven Howard of TravelNewsAsia.com Click to enlarge.

Let me be quite clear that this journey does not end here, he added. We have every confidence that the aircraft is safe, which is the precondition for giving our approval. But we will continue to monitor 737 MAX operations closely as the aircraft resumes service. In parallel, and at our insistence, Boeing has also committed to work to enhance the aircraft still further in the medium term, in order to reach an even higher level of safety.

The Boeing 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 following the second of two accidents within just six months, which together claimed 346 lives.

The root cause of these tragic accidents was traced to software known as the MCAS (Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System), intended to make the plane easier to handle. However, the MCAS, guided by only one Angle of Attack (AoA) sensor, kicked in repeatedly if that sensor malfunctioned, pushing the nose of the aircraft downward multiple times. In both accidents, pilots finally lost control of their plane, resulting in a crash with total loss of aircraft.

In the days after the grounding, EASA set four conditions for the return to service of the aircraft:

- The two accidents (JT610 and ET302) are deemed sufficiently understood;

- Design changes proposed by Boeing to address the issues highlighted by the accidents are EASA approved and their embodiment is mandated;

- An independent extended design review has been completed by EASA; and

- Boeing 737 MAX flight crews have been adequately trained.

These four conditions have now all been met, allowing us to go ahead with the return to service, Ky said.

While the investigations assessed that the behaviour of the MCAS and related alerting systems were the clear main cause of the two crashes, EASA rapidly realised that a far wider review of the 737 MAX was needed. EASA therefore extended its analysis to the entire flight control system. With a particular focus on the human factors the actual experience for a pilot of flying the plane.

This extended review, conducted in close cooperation with FAA as primary certification authority, and with Boeing as manufacturer, continued to evolve over the course of the 20-month exercise. Its findings led to the definition of the broad package of actions specified in the Airworthiness Directive.

The mandated actions need to be seen as a complete package which together ensure the aircrafts safety, Ky said. This is not just about changes to the design of the aircraft: every individual 737 MAX pilot needs to undergo a once-off special training, including simulator training, to ensure that they are fully familiar with the redesigned 737 MAX and trained to handle specific scenarios which may arise in flight. This will be reinforced by recurrent training to ensure the knowledge is kept fresh.

EASA has also agreed with Boeing that the manufacturer will work to even further increase the resilience of the aircraft systems to AoA sensor failures so as to further enhance the safety of the aircraft. Boeing will also conduct a complementary Human Factor assessment of its crew alerting system within the next 12 months, with the aim of identifying the need for longer term improvements.

Resumption of Boeing 737 MAX Flights in Europe

The Airworthiness Directive, which details the aircraft and operational suitability changes, including crew training requirements, must be carried out before each individual plane returns to service, gives the green light from the EASA side for a return to service of the aircraft.

However, scheduling of these mandated actions is a matter for the aircraft operators, under the oversight of Member States national aviation authorities, meaning that the actual return to service may take some time. COVID-19 may also have an influence on the pace of return to commercial operations.

In conjunction with the Airworthiness Directive, EASA also issued a Safety Directive (SD) requiring non-European airlines which are holders of EASA third country operator (TCO) authorisation to implement equivalent requirements, including aircrew training. This will allow for the return to service of the 737 MAX when the aircraft concerned are operated under an EASA TCO authorisation into, within or out of the territory of the EASA Member States.

In summary, the EASA Airworthiness Directive mandates the following main actions:

- Software updates for the flight control computer, including the MCAS;

- Software updates to display an alert in case of disagreement between the two AoA sensors;

- Physical separation of wires routed from the cockpit to the stabiliser trim motor;

- Updates to flight manuals: operational limitations and improved procedures to equip pilots to understand and manage all relevant failure scenarios

- Mandatory training for all 737 MAX pilots before they fly the plane again, and updates of the initial and recurrent training of pilots on the MAX;

- Tests of systems including the AoA sensor system; and

- An operational readiness flight, without passengers, before commercial usage of each aircraft to ensure that all design changes have been correctly implemented and the aircraft successfully and safely brought out of its long period of storage.

EASA, and regulators in Canada and Brazil, worked closely with the FAA and Boeing throughout the last 20 months to return the plane safely to operations. The three authorities have already approved the aircraft for the return to service.

The EASA AD requires the same physical changes to the aircraft as the FAA, meaning that there will be no software or technical differences between the aircraft operated by the United States operators and by the EASA member states operators (the 27 European Union members plus Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland).

Following the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, the UK Civil Aviation Authority is now responsible for clearing the aircraft to operate to/from and within the U.K as well as for U.K. operators.

However, EASAs requirements differ from the FAA in two main respects. EASA explicitly allows flight crews to intervene to stop a stick shaker from continuing to vibrate once it has been erroneously activated by the system, to prevent this distracting the crew. EASA also, for the time being, mandates that certain types of high-precision landings cannot be performed. The latter is expected to be a short-term restriction. The mandated training for pilots is broadly the same for both authorities.

Some EASA member states issued their own decision prohibiting the operation of the 737 MAX last year for their sovereign airspace. These bans will need to be lifted before the aircraft can fly again in the airspace of those countries.

See latest Travel Industry News, Video Interviews, Podcasts and other news regarding: COVID19, EASA, Boeing, 737 MAX.

Headlines: Accor to Open Australia's Second Mövenpick Hotel in May  Bangkok Airways Waives Rebooking Fees  Onyx Hospitality Opens Group's First Shama Resort  Malaysia Airlines Group to Reduce CO2 Emissions by 25m Tonnes in 2021  Qatar Airways to Launch Sea-to-Air Transfers from Shenzhen to HKIA  Derazona Helicopters Orders Airbus H160 Helicopter  Marriott Partners with Scholars of Sustenance for Rescue Kitchen in Phuket  Tourism Cares Expands Board of Directors  Hyatt Opens First Andaz Resort in Asia  Saudi Arabia Hosts UNWTO's 9th Global Tourism Crisis Committee  Boeing Warns Airlines of Potential Issue with Some 737 MAX Aircraft  BA CityFlyer to Launch Flights to Jersey and Gibraltar from LCY  Emirates to Celebrate UAE's Vaccination Programme with Special Flight  Air Astana Launches Meet & Greet Service at ALA, NQZ and FRA  Embraer Publishes Info on Using Business Jets to Transport Vaccines  Messe Berlin 'Very Pleased' with Inaugural ITB India; Dates Set for 2022  Tigerair Taiwan Takes Delivery of First Airbus A320neo Aircraft  Phoenix Aviation to Promote Hua Hin Airport to Regional Markets  Banyan Tree Signs Second Dhawa Resort in Vietnam  Thai Airways to Operate International Flights to 10 Destinations in April  Airbus and TNO to Develop Aircraft Laser Communication Terminal  Mandarin Oriental Lago di Como to Reopen 15 April  Smiths Detection to Upgrade Heathrow's Cabin Baggage Screening  Thomas Cook Opens Outlet in Varanasi, India  Etihad Airways Launches Flights to Ben Gurion Int. Airport in Tel Aviv  No Indication of a Recovery in Demand for International Air Travel  Singapore Airlines Migrates to Sabre's New Crew Manager Solution  VistaJet Orders 10 More CL350s; Takes Delivery of First Two Global 7500s  Qatar's First Marriott Executive Apartments Open in Doha  Marc Speichert to Join Four Seasons as CCO and EVP  Leslie Chiyoma Appointed GM of Grand Park Otaru in Hokkaido  Global Air Cargo Demand Up 9% on Pre-COVID Levels  Modular Aircraft Wins International Design Award  Steigenberger Hotel Doha Appoints Sherief Abouelmagd as GM  Duetto Appoints Chris Crowley as Senior Vice President of Sales  Singapore to Accept IATA Travel Pass from 1 May  Changi Airport Launches Safe Travel Concierge App  Thai AirAsia Launches Promotion  Salesforce to Upgrade Singapore Airlines' CRM with 1Point  Qatar Airways Operates World's First Fully COVID19 Vaccinated Flight  British Airways Invests in Future of Hydrogen-Electric Aircraft with ZeroAvia  Alaska Airlines Confirms Order for 23 Boeing 737-9 Airplanes  Elbit Systems Completes Acquisition of Sparton  Air Canada Terminates Transat Acquisition  Saudi Arabia Has 73,057 Hotel Rooms in Pipeline  Wharf Opens Stunning Niccolo Hotel in Suzhou, China  Airlines: A Path Back to Profitability  Sabre Launches New Airline Storefront  Vietjet to Resume International Flights  SITA Appoints Martin Smillie as VP Communications & Data Exchange  Embraer Completes Aerial Refueling Trials Between Two KC-390s  Elbit Systems Acquires Rokar from BAE  China Airlines to Launch Taipei - Palau Flights  Emirates Resumes Daily Airbus A380 Flights to Bangkok, Thailand  Willie Walsh Becomes Director General of IATA  American Airlines Offering Quarantine-Free Travel to Italy  Jumeirah Appoints Ermanno Zanini as RVP and GM of Burj Al Arab  Cross Signs Franchise Agreement for Seven Hotels in Japan  Hong Kong Air Cargo Launches Pilot Recruitment Drive  Boeing Awarded US$1.6 Billion Contract for 11 P-8A Poseidon Aircraft  WHO Appoints Carl Bildt as Special Envoy for ACT-Accelerator  Hong Kong Airlines to Trial Lab App Module of IATA Travel Pass  Thailand's Top of the Gulf Regatta 2021 to Take Place in November  World Tourism Organization Outlines Two Scenarios for 2021  TUMI and McLaren Unveil New Collection  Accelya Signs Distribution Agreement with Air France-KLM  Corsair Takes Delivery of First A330-900 Aircraft  Qatar Airways Extends Support of Orbis' Blindness Prevention Programmes  WHO Calls for More Studies into Origin of SARS-CoV-2 Virus  Japan Coast Guard Orders Two More Airbus H225 Helicopters  Thai Airways to Operate Two Flights Between Frankfurt and Phuket  Travellers Need COVID19 Tests to be Convenient and Affordable  Jelena Bojanic Appointed GM of A by Adina Canberra Hotel  Southwest Airlines Orders 100 Boeing 737 MAX Aircraft  TFE Begins Major Expansion with Opening of First Hotel in Austria  Bombardier Delivers 50th Global 7500 Business Jet  British Airways Starts Selling Cook-at-Home Meal Kits  Airbnb Launches What's My Place Worth Tool in Thailand  Qatar Airways Enhances Oryx One IFE with PressReader Partnership  Airbus Launches Travel Companion App - Tripset  United Airlines to Increase Flights in May  IATA Publishes 2020 Safety Report  FlyArystan Takes Delivery of Two More Airbus A320 Aircraft  GKN Aerospace Wins Boeing 777X EWIS Contract  Delta to Launch Flights to Iceland from Three Cities in U.S.A.  Marriott Signs Three Hotels in Saudi Arabia  Sabre Launches Qantas NDC Offers in Australia and New Zealand  Mandarin Oriental New York to Reopen 1 April  Air France Trials ICC AOKpass on CDG - SFO and LAX Flights  Bell Boeing V-22 Osprey Logs 600,000+ Flight Hours  SITA Upgrading Services at Sydney Airport in Australia  Dusit Thani Maldives Hosts Professional Tennis Coach Jerome Becker  Elbit Systems Wins Night Vision Goggles Order from German Federal Police  NDC - Exclusive Interview with Kathy Morgan of Sabre Travel Solutions  Elephant Conservation, Jungle Bubbles and Tourism in Thailand - Interview  IATA Travel Pass - Interview with Vinoop Goel, Director Airports - APAC  How's Business in Pattaya, Thailand? Interview with MD of Tiffany's Show  Will British & Irish Lions' Tour of South Africa Go Ahead?  ASEAN Tourism Forum 2021 Postponed Until January 2022  HD Videos and Interviews  Podcasts from HD Video Interviews  RSS News Feed and Ticker  Travel Trade Shows in 2020 and 2021  High-Res Picture Galleries  Travel News Asia - Latest Travel Industry News 

Receive our Latest Travel News Daily Email free of charge by entering your email address and name in the boxes to the right and clicking subscribe. You can also receive the news by WhatsApp, stay updated with our RSS Feed Free Travel News RSS Feed, and even Add the Headlines to Your Website free of charge. Have questions? Please read our travel news FAQ.

     
Advertising
Advertising
Copyright © 1997-2021 TravelNewsAsia.com