The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has completed test flights of the Boeing 737 Max, a key milestone in restoring airworthiness certification and returning the airliner to operational status. Transport Canada (TC) completed its flight testing in late August. The most recent flights took place in Vancouver, Canada, due to Covid-19 travel restrictions. Both the European and Canadian tests involve validation of data collected by the FAA from June 29 to July 1 using a Max 7.
In a statement issued on September 11, the European regulator said its next step in evaluating the aircraft for return to service will be to analyze the data and other information collected from the flights ahead of a Joint Operations Evaluation Board meeting to be held at London Gatwick Airport in the UK next week.
Flight testing has centered largely on the airplane’s maneuvering characteristics augmentation system (MCAS). Authorities identified a malfunction in the system during the investigations of two crashes in October 2018 and March 2019 that killed 346 people between them. That resulted in the grounding of the 737 Max by global aviation authorities for an unprecedented period, now spanning 17 months.
EASA and TC have been working steadily, in close cooperation with the FAA and Boeing, to return the 737 MAX to commercial service as soon as possible, “but only once we are convinced it is safe,” EASA said.
Transport Canada added it “will not lift the flight restrictions on the Boeing 737 Max 8 until the department is fully satisfied that all the safety concerns have been addressed by the manufacturer and the FAA, and that enhanced flight crew procedures and training are in place.”
Meanwhile, a proposed FAA AD published last month calls for mandating a number of design changes to address the MCAS and angle of attack sensors. Comments are due September 21. The agency also is placing the Preliminary Summary of the FAA’s Review of the Boeing 737 Maxin the docket to assist with the review of the proposed AD.