Boeing 737 Max to be tested by European regulators

THE European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) plans to send its own pilots to the US to conduct flight tests of Boeing’s grounded 737 Max jet before it is returned to service, it said yesterday.

The European regulator is conducting its own review of the 737 Max before it’s returned to service after being grounded for almost six months.

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“EASA intends to conduct its own test flights separate from, but in full co-ordination with, the FAA,” Janet Northcote, an agency spokeswoman, said.

“The test flights are not scheduled yet. The date will depend on the development schedule of Boeing.”

Two Boeing 737 Max crashes – one off the coast of Indonesia in October and a second in Ethiopia in March – were triggered by a malfunctioning sensor known as an angle-of-attack vane that measured whether the plane’s nose was pointed up or down relative to the oncoming air. Boeing has two such sensors on all its aircraft, while other manufacturers, including Airbus, have used three or more.

EASA is also examining whether Boeing’s use of two vanes is sufficient. The regulations don’t necessarily require an additional vane to be added.

Safety could be addressed “through improvement of the flight crew procedures and training, or through design enhancements, or a combination of the two,” EASA said.

It said two vanes are considered “the bare minimum requirement to meet the safety objectives” and in the agency’s experience “an architecture with three vanes can more easily be found compliant with the regulation”.

In the two crashes, erroneous data from failed angle-of-attack sensors triggered cockpit alarms, including a false stall warning and altitude and airspeed gauges that didn’t agree with each other.


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