Europe’s aviation safety agency, which is conducting its own independent review of Boeing’s grounded 737 MAX, is not satisfied with a key detail of Boeing’s fix to the jet. It wants Boeing to do more to improve the integrity of the sensors that failed on the two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia, killing 346 people.
And it’s demanding that Boeing demonstrate in flight tests the stability of the MAX during extreme maneuvers, not only with Boeing’s newly updated flight-control system but also with that system switched off.
Boeing has publicly said it hopes for FAA clearance for the MAX in October so that it can return to passenger service in the U.S. this year.
Typically, overseas regulators follow the FAA’s lead. But after the MAX crashes revealed shortcomings in the FAA’s certification process, that’s no longer certain.
One of Ky’s slides cited a letter EASA sent to the FAA on April 1, less than three weeks after the MAX was grounded, that laid out four conditions for it to allow the MAX to return to service.
The first condition stipulated is, “Design changes proposed by Boeing are EASA approved (no delegation to FAA).”
The second is that EASA complete an “additional and broader independent review” of the aircraft, beyond the specific design changes to the flight-control system that went haywire on the crash flights.
Although Boeing has updated MCAS so that it now takes input from both Angle of Attack sensors on the MAX instead of only one, and won’t operate if they disagree, Ky indicated EASA finds this insufficient.
I would note that in order to meet the EU requirements, Boeing will have to make physical changes to the aircraft to change its aerodynamics, which is exactly what they were trying avoid through the MCAS system in the first place.
Boeing is in a world of hurt in the best case scenario.