The Boeing 737 Max can return to service in Europe, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency said Wednesday. The announcement came less than a month after the airliners started flying again in the US. The 737 Max family was grounded worldwide in March 2019, following two crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia that, combined, killed 346 people.
The conditions for the 737 Max's return to the air in Europe included software upgrades to the MCAS flight control system that was blamed for both accidents; separating two bundles of wiring that power control surfaces on the aircraft's horizontal stabilizer; operations manual updates; and more-rigorous flight crew training. The mandates are similar to those the Federal Aviation Administration called for when it lifted the US grounding order in November.
"Let me be quite clear that this journey does not end here," Patrick Ky, executive director of the EU agency, said in a statement. "Boeing has also committed to work to enhance the aircraft still further in the medium term, in order to reach an even higher level of safety."
The UK's Civil Aviation Authority also announced Wednesday that it has cleared the Max to carry passengers again. Though the UK has now officially left the EU, the CAA said it worked closely with the EASA in researching its decision. Aviation safety agencies in Brazil and Canada also have lifted their grounding order on the Max, but China is still conducting its review.
Airliners that operate the Max will have to meet any requirements before they can put their aircraft back into revenue service. American Airlines resumed its passenger flights Dec. 29, and United and Southwest have plans to do so by the second quarter of this year.