EASA reveals 737 MAX approval timeline

A week after the FAA un-grounded the embattled jet, EASA laid out its approach to getting the 737 MAX back into service

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has unveiled its proposed plan for the return to service of the Boeing 737 MAX, a week after its American counterpart, the FAA, approved the jet to return to the skies.

(All photos Boeing)

The agency has issued a Proposed Airworthiness Directive (PAD) concerning the type for public consultation, signalling its intention to approve the aircraft to return to Europe’s skies within a matter of weeks.

“EASA made clear from the outset that we would conduct our own objective and independent assessment of the 737 MAX, working closely with the FAA and Boeing, to make sure that there can be no repeat of these tragic accidents, which touched the lives of so many people,” said EASA executive director Patrick Ky.


“Each time when it may have appeared that problems were resolved, we dug deeper and asked even more questions. The result was a thorough and comprehensive review of how this plane flies and what it is like for a pilot to fly the MAX, giving us the assurance that it is now safe to fly,” he added.

The PAD is now open for a 28-day consultation period. Once that ends, EASA is expected to take time to review the comments made, before publishing its final Airworthiness Directive (AD). That final publication is expected from mid-January 2021 and will constitute the formal ungrounding decision for all 737 MAX aircraft flown by operators from EASA member states.

After the return to service, the organisation has committed to monitor the jet closely in-service, to allow for early detection of any problems that may arise.


The PAD mandates the following: software updates for the flight control computer including the MCAS and 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 to better prepare pilots to manage all relevant failures, mandatory training for all 737 MAX crews before they fly the jet again and tests of systems including the AoA sensor system.


Additionally, before each aircraft can return to service, EASA is mandating the completion of an operational readiness flight without passengers, to ensure that all design changes have been correctly implemented and the aircraft successfully and safely brought out of its long period of storage.