EU takes a first step toward ungrounding the 737 Max

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The Proposed Airworthiness Directive sets the stage for Europe's commercial flight ban on the Boeing 737 Max to come to an end in January.
The Proposed Airworthiness Directive sets the stage for Europe's commercial flight ban on the Boeing 737 Max to come to an end in January.

The EU's aviation safety regulator has tentatively approved the ungrounding of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, setting the stage for Europe's commercial flight ban on the plane to come to an end in January.

The move follows by one week the FAA's directive ending the grounding of the Max in U.S. skies.

The Proposed Airworthiness Directive put forward by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has most of the same conditions as those imposed by the FAA. Most notably, aircraft must receive a software update for the automated flight control system. And all pilots will have to be provided with Max flight simulator training.

The EASA order will also go beyond the FAA order by requiring that flight crews are able to stop a stick shaker from continuing to vibrate once it has been erroneously activated by the flight control system, a measure intended to reduce distraction of the crew. (A stick shaker is a device the vibrates the flight controls in order to alert a pilot that a plane is approaching a stall.)

The Max was grounded worldwide in March 2020 following the second of two crashes over five months that killed a combined 346 people.

The crashes were both the result of a faulty sensor, which transmitted erroneous information to the plane's automated flight control system, causing a nosedive.

EASA has opened a 28-day period for comments on the proposed Max ungrounding. Final publication of the Airworthiness Directive is expected in mid-January, the agency said.

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