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Europe might let Boeing 737 Max return to skies by year-end

Nearly 400 737 Max planes were in use worldwide when they were grounded after a 2018 crash in Indonesia and a 2019 crash in Ethiopia.

FAA chief Steve Dickson sits inside the flight deck of a Boeing 737 MAX, conducting a pre-flight check ahead of take-off from Boeing Field in Seattle on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020.
FAA chief Steve Dickson took part in a test flight of a Boeing 737 Max in September.
AP file

BERLIN — Europe’s aviation regulator is closing in on a decision to allow the Boeing 737 Max to return to the air after it was grounded worldwide following two deadly crashes, according to a report Friday.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency’s executive director, Patrick Ky, said he is satisfied that changes to the jet have made it safe enough to return to the skies before the end of the year, Bloomberg reported.

He was quoted as saying that “our analysis is showing that this is safe, and the level of safety reached is high enough for us.” Bloomberg reported that Ky said the development of a further sensor will take 20 to 24 months, and the agency had discussed with Boeing “the fact that with the third sensor, we could reach even higher safety levels.”

EASA said the article was accurate. It said in an emailed response to questions that it is “currently in the process of reviewing the final documents ahead of a proposed Airworthiness Directive for the Boeing 737 Max that is expected to be published next month for public consultation.” After that is concluded, a final airworthiness directive will be published, it said.

Bloomberg reported that the public comment process will take four weeks.

Airlines began using the Max in 2017. There were nearly 400 in service when the planes were grounded after a 2018 crash in Indonesia and a 2019 crash in Ethiopia. Investigators have pointed to the role played by flight-control software called MCAS that pushed the noses of the planes down based on faulty sensor readings.

EASA conducted test flights earlier this year.