Boeing’s grounded 737 MAX airliner is likely to return to service in Europe during the first quarter of 2020, the head of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) said on Monday.
While the European regulator expects to give its approval in January, preparations by national authorities and airlines may delay the resumption of commercial flights by up to another two months, EASA executive director Patrick Ky indicated.
“If there are training requirements (and) coordination to be done with the EU member states to make sure everyone does the same thing at the same time, this will take a bit of time,” Ky said. “That’s why I’m saying the first quarter of 2020.”
EASA also plans to carry out its own program of checks including simulator and flight tests, before allowing flights to resume in Europe.
European experts traveled to Rockwell Collins facilities in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, last week to begin an audit of a “reasonably final” software version, the EASA chief told Reuters on the sidelines of the agency’s annual safety conference in Helsinki.
Rockwell Collins, a unit of United Technologies (UTX.N), developed the MAX flight control software with Boeing.
“There has been a lot of work done on the design of the software,” Ky said. But he added: “We think there is still some work to be done.”