A worker rides a bicycle outside of the Boeing Co. facility in Everett on July 24. (David Ryder/Bloomberg, file)

A worker rides a bicycle outside of the Boeing Co. facility in Everett on July 24. (David Ryder/Bloomberg, file)

Boeing year-end goal for 737 max return gets boost in Europe

The company agreed to install a synthetic sensor on the next version of the plane — the 737 Max 10.

By Siddharth Philip / Bloomberg

Boeing’s push to return the grounded 737 Max jet to the skies by year-end got a boost from European regulators, who said they expect to sign off on their safety review by November.

Test flights and a separate round of simulator sessions conducted this month went well, Patrick Ky, executive director of European Union Aviation Safety Agency, told French reporters on Friday. EASA expects to lift its grounding shortly after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, Ky said. He expects Chinese authorities to take longer to allow the plane back in the air.

Boeing has agreed to install a synthetic sensor on the next version of the plane, called the 737 Max 10, according to Ky, whose comments were confirmed by EASA. Existing models will be retrofitted after the jet’s return, he said.

Boeing has worked with regulators to get the 737 Max back in the air following the crashes that killed 346 people and led to a worldwide grounding of the jet in March 2019. While the FAA is the main certification body for the plane, gaining EASA’s approval is seen as a key milestone for its return outside the U.S., after other global regulators signaled they would follow the European agency’s lead.

The agreement on a synthetic sensor resolves a key concern of EASA that went beyond fixes that the FAA had proposed. The European regulators wanted more redundancy for so-called angle-of-attack sensors which were a factor in the two crashes.

EASA has also asked for Boeing to give pilots a way to disable the so-called stick shaker alarm system, Ky said. Canadian regulators have also raised concerns about multiple alarms potentially confusing pilots in an emergency.

The FAA has proposed multiple changes to the aircraft before allowing it to carry passengers again. Among them, the system that was driving the jet’s nose down in both accidents would no longer activate repeatedly. Boeing has taken other steps to minimize the chances it will malfunction in the future.

The coming Max 10, a larger variant of the single-aisle jet, is still to be certified. Ky also said that the regulator expects to take a closer look at the certification of future aircraft models such as the Boeing 777X jet, in light of the Max debacle.

The FAA completed test flights of the Max during summer. In August, it kicked off a review period that could potentially lead to a U.S. sign-off on the plane’s safety by October at the earliest.

After some scheduling delays related to coronavirus travel restrictions, EASA conducted flight tests this month working through Canada. Subsequent simulator sessions with the Joint Operations Evaluation Board, overseen by regulators from Canada, Europe, Brazil and the U.S., will set out the training requirements for pilots.

With airlines having to retrain pilots and perform maintenance on the grounded fleet, it will take a few weeks at a minimum after certification before the planes begin carrying passengers.

Talk to us

More in Herald Business Journal

The Boeing factory at Paine Field in Everett. (Boeing Co.)
Could Everett become Boeing’s next jetliner headquarters?

The company is considering selling the Commercial Airplanes division offices at Longacres in Renton.

FILE - An American Airlines Boeing 737-823 lands at Miami International Airport, Monday, July 27, 2020, in Miami.American Airlines said Tuesday, Aug. 25 that it will furlough or lay off 19,000 employees in October as it struggles with a sharp downturn in travel because of the pandemic. Flight attendants will bear the heaviest cuts, with 8,100 losing their jobs.  (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee, File)
American plans flights with Boeing 737 Max by year-end

Customers can see on American’s website the type of plane for any flight if they know where to click.

Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Aviation Safety Agency, in Amsterdam on Nov. 27, 2018. MUST CREDIT: Bloomberg photo by Yuriko Nakao.
Boeing Max judged safe to fly by Europe’s aviation regulator

A synthetic sensor to aid pilots when the mechanical angle-of-attack sensors fail is still two years out.

Cop turned pinup model in Gold Bar charged with $67K fraud

Brenda Cavoretto was injured when a dead body fell on her in 2012. She’s accused of overselling its lasting impact.

Washington unemployment rate drops to 7.8%

Most job growth occurred in leisure and hospitality, construction and other services.

Premera Blue Cross will eliminate hundreds of jobs as it seeks to cut costs sparked by the current economic downturn. (Submitted photo)
Mountlake Terrace-based health insurer Premera cuts 285 jobs

The layoff at Premera Blue Cross, prompted by the economic downturn, represents about 8.3% of its workforce.

FILE - In this Feb. 8, 2018, file photo, the logo for Twitter is displayed above a trading post on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.  Twitter is imposing new rules, Friday, Oct. 9, 2020,  ahead of the U.S. presidential election, prohibiting people,  including candidates, from claiming an election win before it is called by either state election officials or two authoritative, national news outlets. (AP Photo/Richard Drew, File)
Twitter to pay $100,000 over Washington campaign violations

The company failed to maintain records related to ads that ran from 2012 through 2019.

FILE  - In this Sept. 30, 2020, file photo, a Boeing 737 MAX jet, piloted by Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) chief Steve Dickson, prepares to land at Boeing Field following a test flight in Seattle. Boeing says the pandemic will reduce demand for new planes for the next decade, long after experts expect a vaccine for COVID-19. The company updated its forecast of the airplane market on Tuesday, Oct. 6, 2020. It remains upbeat about long-term prospects driven by increasing air travel in Asia. Boeing, which along with Europe’s Airbus dominates the aircraft-building industry, has seen orders and deliveries of new planes crumble this year. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson, File)
Boeing’s struggles continue: No jetliner sales in September

The company has suffered 448 cancellations for the Max and dropped another 602 orders from its backlog.

Valdis Dombrovskis, Vice-President of the EU Commission, speaks at a press conference in Berlin, Germany, following the informal talks of the EU Trade Ministers on Monday, Sept. 21, 2020.  (Bernd von Jutrczenka/Pool via AP)
Rule: EU can impose $4 billion in tariffs over Boeing support

Tax breaks for Boeing from Washington state were deemed to have unfairly harmed certain Airbus jets.

Kellie Shanahan loads Jacob McGovern's vehicle with his class tool bag at Meadowdale High School in Lynnwood on October 1, 2020.  (Kevin Clark / The Herald)
How do you teach auto shop remotely? Edmonds class finds out

For some local high school students, auto shop is the thing that keeps them from dropping out.

Newly certified teacher Shana Brown assists a student with a Zoom meeting, while overseeing a class of seven students, in the former warehouse space at Malicious Women Candles on Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020 in Snohomish, Washington. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)
For some Snohomish County kids, a warehouse is a schoolhouse

Employers made space for students to attend virtual classes on-site. But at least one learning pod had to shut down.

FILE - In this  July 8, 2009, file photo, a worker dries a car at Seattle's famous Elephant car wash, near the Space Needle in Seattle. Seattle's iconic pink elephant sign soon will have a new home. The Seattle Times reports the Elephant Car Wash on Battery Street near Denny Way will close permanently, the company announced in a news release Thursday, Oct. 8, 2020. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren, File)
Seattle’s Elephant Car Wash to shutter, pink sign to be saved

Rumors have swirled surrounding a demolition permit for the site was filed Oct. 7.