Europe approves Boeing 737 Max test flights 

European Aviation Safety Agency move follows scheduling of tests by the Federal Aviation Administration

737 Max
A Boeing 737 Max lands after a test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle in June Credit: Karen Ducey/ REUTERS

Europe’s flight safety authority has scheduled the first flight tests for the Boeing 737 Max, which has been grounded worldwide after two deadly crashes revealed design issues with the jet.

The European Aviation Safety Agency said it had been working with the US Federal Aviation Administration, which began its own recertification test flights in June, on scheduling its own tests.

“While Boeing still has some final actions to close off, EASA judges the overall maturity of the re-design process is now sufficient to proceed to flight tests,” the agency said. “These are a prerequisite for the European agency to approve the aircraft’s new design.”

The European agency said it hoped to return the plane to service as soon as possible, but only once it was convinced of its safety.

Airlines began using the Max in 2017. There were nearly 400 in service when the planes were grounded after a 2018 crash in Indonesia and a 2019 crash in Ethiopia.

Investigators have pointed to the role played by flight-control software called MCAS that pushed the noses of the planes down based on faulty sensor readings.

Earlier this month, the FAA outlined a list of design changes required before it would lift its order grounding the aircraft.

The EASA flight tests will take place in Vancouver in the week starting September 7, EASA said, with simulator tests run at Gatwick airport the week before.