TUI Fly Belgium First To Resume 737 Max Operations in EU

 - February 17, 2021, 12:55 PM
The first 737 Max to resume operations in Europe, TUI Fly Belgium registration OO-MAX, emerges from its hangar in Brussels. (Photo: TUI Fly)

TUI Fly Belgium on Wednesday became the first EU carrier to resume revenue service with the Boeing 737 Max since its March 2019 grounding with a flight from Brussels Airport to Alicante and Malaga, Spain. The aircraft, carrying registration OO-MAX, departed from Brussels Airport at 9:30 local time with 118 passengers on board. All passengers were informed the flight would be aboard a Max 8.  

The Belgium civil aviation authority awarded the aircraft its airworthiness certificate after confirming it complied with the requirements mandated by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for a safe return to service of the Max. The EASA airworthiness directive, issued January 27, mandates software updates for the flight control computer; software updates to display an alert in case of disagreement between the two angle-of-attack sensors; physical separation of wires routed from the cockpit to the stabilizer trim motor; updates to flight manuals citing operational limitations and improved procedures to equip pilots to understand and manage all relevant failure scenarios; updates to initial and recurrent pilot training; tests of systems including the AoA sensor system; and an operational readiness flight.

TUI Fly Belgium’s pilots received their dedicated return to service training in a 737 Max simulator in Gatwick, London, a spokesperson confirmed to AIN.  Already 135 of its pilots have completed their mandatory Max simulator training.

The airline will take a phased approach to return to service its four Max 8s depending on the lifting of travel restrictions in Belgium and a return of demand. The Belgian CAA cleared two of its Max jets to operate revenue service. Gunther Hofman, managing director of TUI Fly Belgium, said the company is “delighted that our four aircraft can be used again. The safety of our passengers and crew has been our top priority all along and we have full confidence in the 737 Max, the most tested aircraft ever tested in history and around the world.”

The company declined to reveal the cost of the extra training and the modifications to its Max fleet, noting that negotiations covering those details took place “as part of an overall package with Boeing.”