• Boeing's 737 Max judged safe enough by EU regulator
  • Set to be granted first major approval for flying before 2021
  • Planes have been grounded since March 2019 after two crashes

European Union regulators are prepared to let Boeing'sĀ grounded 737 Max planes return to service in the bloc before the end of the year. "Our analysis is showing that this is safe, and the level of safety reached is high enough for us," said Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency, in an interview with Bloomberg. "What we discussed with Boeing is the fact that with the third sensor, we could reach even higher safety levels."

Test flights were conducted last month, and the EASA is now performing final document reviews ahead of a draft airworthiness directive it expects to issue next month, according to Ky. Four weeks are allotted following this to take public comments. The new sensor Ky mentioned won't be ready for another 20 to 24 months so it will be retrofitted onto planes and be a requirement for the the larger 737 Max 10 model when it debuts in 2022.

Boeing airbus
Source: YCharts.

This green light from the second-biggest market for the 737 Max is pushing shares of Boeing higher in pre-market trading. A big question looking ahead will be if passengers are willing to climb onboard. The 737 Max has been one of the biggest disasters in aviation history. Over 300 people perished in two crashes in 2018 and 2019 due to faulty software on the planes, and Boeing and U.S. airline regulators have been slammed for negligence. CEO Dennis Muilenburg resigned over the debacle at the end of last year. Boeing has removed over 1,000 737 Max planes from its backlog so far in 2020 either due to outright cancellations or the ASC 606 accounting rule if payment is doubtful.

The embattled firm, which is also dealing with 787 Dreamliner production issues and the plunge in demand due to the pandemic, delivered just 11 airplanes in September, versus French rival Airbus' 57. The two companies are also at the heart of a trade dispute at the WTO between the U.S. and the European Union.