Boeing 737 MAX declared safe in Europe after deadly crashes

The 737 MAX has been cleared to resume passenger flights in Europe in a boost for Boeing as it prepares to reveal, what is expected to be, a record annual loss for the company.

The US plane maker has been locked in crisis mode since the flagship of its fleet of planes was grounded globally in March 2019 following crashes of passenger flights in Indonesia and Ethiopia that left 346 dead.

While the 737 MAX was granted clearance by US regulators late last year to fly again following an overhaul of key safety systems, the green light was given far later than Boeing had expected.

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Boeing 737 Max takes off in Miami

Europe’s aviation watchdog, EASA, confirmed just moments before the company’s annual results were due to be published on Wednesday that the planes had met its own four tests to return to the skies.

They included a full design review and the implementation of a pilot training regime.

EASA executive director Patrick Ky said: “We have every confidence that the aircraft is safe, which is the precondition for giving our approval.

“But we will continue to monitor 737 MAX operations closely as the aircraft resumes service.”

Relatives of those who died in the crashes have condemned regulators for the lifting of their restrictions, arguing they are premature and even “dangerous” given the findings of a US Congressional investigation surrounding Boeing’s behaviour and the original certification of the MAX.

It is a welcome development though for Boeing following a devastating 2020 that saw its planned fightback from the 737 MAX crisis thwarted and sales devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The crisis forced the company to hoard completed orders, slash production, cut jobs, agree compensation with airlines for missed deliveries and pay $2.5bn to resolve a US investigation into the MAX accidents.

Now, the challenge facing Boeing is one of an industry battered by COVID-19 seeking to delay orders because of the collapse in demand for travel.

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