Return of 737 Max to European skies at risk of additional delays

US coronavirus travel restrictions have hindered planning for test flights by regulators

A Boeing 737 Max. The aircraft was banned from commercial flying by governments around the world in March 2019 after two fatal crashes. Photograph:  Reuters

A Boeing 737 Max. The aircraft was banned from commercial flying by governments around the world in March 2019 after two fatal crashes. Photograph: Reuters

 

The return of Boeing’s 737 Max to European skies is at risk of additional delays because of US coronavirus travel restrictions that have hindered planning for test flights by regulators from the continent.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) will perform its flight tests on the grounded Boeing jet after the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) conducts its own, said Janet Northcote, a spokeswoman for the European regulator.

The Max was banned from commercial flying by governments around the world in March 2019 after two fatal crashes, and efforts to re-certify the aircraft have been marked by repeated delays. At issue is how closely EASA’s timeline aligns with its US counterpart, which could affect the pace of the aircraft’s global comeback.

Bloomberg reported last week that Boeing was closing in on the final steps needed to return the aircraft to market. The aircraft-maker tentatively targeted later this month to host US regulators on a flight test, a crucial step in the FAA’s evaluation of the upgraded jet, people familiar with the matter said then. – Bloomberg