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Europe lifts safety ban on Boeing 737 MAX jet


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Europe lifts safety ban on Boeing 737 MAX jet

By Tim Hepher and Rachit Vats



FILE PHOTO: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Chief Steve Dickson pilots a Boeing 737 MAX aircraft on takeoff of an evaluation flight from Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, U.S. September 30, 2020. Mike Siegel/Pool via REUTERS./File Photo


(Reuters) - European regulators on Wednesday lifted a 22-month ban on flights of the Boeing 737 MAX after a design and pilot training overhaul in the wake of crashes that killed 346 people.


The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) confirmed a provisional approval given in November, but dropped calls for an extra flight-angle sensor to back up a system implicated in crashes.


"Let me be quite clear that this journey does not end here," Executive Director Patrick Ky said in a statement.


"We have every confidence that the aircraft is safe, which is the precondition for giving our approval. But we will continue to monitor 737 MAX operations closely as the aircraft resumes service."


Regulators worldwide grounded the MAX in March 2019 after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia.


The United States lifted its ban last November, followed by Brazil and Canada. Britain, which is no longer in EASA after leaving the EU, followed the agency's lead on Wednesday.


Relatives of some victims have criticised the move to clear the 737 MAX, the latest version of the world's most-flown jet.


Crash investigations show bad data from a single faulty sensor triggered a barely documented software system that ordered repeated dives and overwhelmed both accident crews.


Boeing Co's modified 737 MAX airliner is safe to return to service in Europe, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said on Wednesday, lifting a 22-month flight ban after two crashes of the jet which caused 346 deaths. Francis Maguire reports.


Boeing has said data from both “Angle of Attack” sensors on the MAX will be tracked in the modified aircraft, instead of just one as in the past. But EASA has suggested a third sensor system to act as a jury in case one of the main sensors fails.


The proposal, opposed by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, triggered a regulatory tussle over whether existing modifications would allow pilots to cope with any sensor outage, or whether a further safety net was needed.


Ky said in September that Boeing had agreed to install the digital equivalent of a third sensor on the next version, the 737 MAX 10, followed by retrofits on other models.



However, in a document alongside the ungrounding order, EASA dropped the proposal for a third "synthetic" sensor on the grounds that Boeing had promised other ways of securing data.


It said Boeing had agreed to develop further changes "within two years" to improve fault-monitoring and allow pilots easily to select the right data.


An EASA spokeswoman said the solution now being considered by Boeing was different from a third sensor but "broadly aligned". She declined further comment on proprietary details.


A Boeing spokesman said: "We will address all regulatory requirements, technical needs and testing requirements."


In comments to EASA released on Wednesday, Virginie Fricaudet, who lost her sister on Ethiopian flight 302 and who heads a France-based relatives association, said the MAX was "aerodynamically unstable" and should have a third sensor.


Naoise Ryan, who lost her husband, the global deputy chief engineer of the U.N. World Food Programme, in the same crash, called the MAX a 'bastard-type' aircraft with modern modifications bolted onto a 1960s aircraft design.


EASA acknowledged the aircraft's technical roots would hinder the addition of complex new systems.


"Due to the legacy ... architecture of the Boeing 737, the installation of an additional AOA sensor would require a significant engineering effort," it said, adding that Boeing had nonetheless demonstrated that its approach was viable and safe.


The challenges of developing upgrades, rather than the much bigger expense of a clean-sheet design, were further highlighted on Wednesday when Boeing took a $6.5 billion charge to redesign part of its upcoming 777X, including control electronics.


Boeing said the changes to the plane, a derivative of its 1990s mini-jumbo, would anticipate regulatory changes resulting from the MAX crisis.


(Reporting by Tim Hepher, Sudip Kar-Gupta, Rachit Vats; Editing by Jason Neely, Kirsten Donovan and Jan Harvey)



-- © Copyright Reuters 2021-01-28
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Why can't they allow pilots to fly rather than computers? What 737 Max has too many controls and is inherently unstable without computers. Doesn't that mean it's unfliable? How about more pilots on board plus a couple of engineers. Airlines can't afford this? Well there are currently lots of unemployed pilots around at present. Rendering the 737 unfliable with too few pilots is all to maximize profits and has little to do with safety.

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The 737Max was built at a time when Boeing had completed the neo-liberal transformation from world beating engineering giant to a money making platform and sinecure for favorites from politix and finance.

That problem has still not been adequately addressed, thus any assurances from Boeing still have to carry a question mark with them. The company has just replaced the former US ambassador to Japan (<deleted>) who resigned from her sinecure last year,  with the former head of a Wall Street financial services company (KPMG) to list just one example ... nuff said.

The problems with stability which required the MCAS system was only one major corner cut in a plane that had so many cut corners it should really be about 10 meters longer.

It's also the only problem that has been scoped and supposedly fixed. (Apart from the wiring which was also a mess and quickly disappeared from the headlines, and looks like also affects the 777, from the same era for the same reasons.)

Yes, the FAA isn't going to risk being too cuddly with Boeing right now. But really all of those planes should have been subjected to a 'D' Check ++. Every screw, rivet, panel, wire, connection, whatever.

Hundreds of innocent people who had placed their trust in the system died as a result of greedy penny pinching swine trying to save money. Who lied, stayed silent or obfuscated even after the first 150 dead.

Greed, corruption, and a bunch of honchos, many with ZERO aviation experience (see above) sending pilots up in a crate that needed software input just to remain in the air. Those guys stood no chance at all.

So will, I fly 73Max? No way! I'm not convinced they can have found all the problems that are there, and it still needs software input just to remain stable. The thing is a gigantic flying cut corner.

I feel safer in a flimsy microlite at 5000' than I do riding a bike in town these days. I love flying. Always have. Not at all scared.

But if I ever get to the gate and discover I'm about to fly on a 73Max, I'll turn round and get off, even if I lose the fare money.

How can anyone feel comfortable sitting on one of those things for hours on end, in the dark, over an ocean?

Not bloody likely.


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On 1/28/2021 at 3:09 PM, skorp13 said:

I'm still not getting on one of those!


   Really . 

   Special offer on those expected flights,  mid 2025 .

   In line with the predicted return of tourists , to the kingdom..

  Forever the optimist ..

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