Cologne, Germany - According to the European regulator, the 737 MAX is likely to return to service in Europe in the first quarter of 2020.
Although the 737 MAX is expected to get approval in Europe in January 2020, preparations by the national regulators of the EU members and airline operators may push back the relaunch of regular flights another two months, EASA executive director Patrick Ky noted.
EASA director also said the close coordination was required with the EU member countries to make sure everyone is ready to operate the aircraft at the same time.
Boeing has already announced that it was aiming to return the 737 MAX to service by the end of 2019.
The grounding of the aircraft after the second fatal crash in Ethiopia on March 10 this year, hit the existing 737 MAX operators and the airlines who ordered the aircraft to expand their fleets and route networks.
Michael O'Leary, CEO of the Irish low-cost operator Ryanair said yesterday that the 737 MAX delivery delays hampered the airline's growth plans for 2020. Ryanair doesn't expect to receive its first 737 MAX before April 2020. The first 737 MAX delivery for Ryanair was due in January, 2020 before grounding.
EASA denies dragging out review of Boeing 737 MAX
The Irish budget carrier is one of the largest 737 MAX customers in the world with 135 aircraft on order.
EASA and the US regulator FAA conduct their own reviews, including simulator and flight tests, for the re-certification of the plane's anti-stall prevention system known as MCAS ((Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System).
There has been a lot of work done on the design of the software, but we think there is still some work to be done,
Patrick Ky has rejected claims from Ryanair's CEO Michael O’Leary that EASA is retarding the return of 737 MAX. The EASA director said the Agency is simply fulfilling its obligations.
It still remains unclear that regulators will require additional simulator training for MAX pilots, which would cause more delay and cost for the airlines.
That decision can be taken only after EASA’s own simulator and flight tests,
Ky also said.
EASA hopes to complete a detailed MCAS software review by the end of this month, and launch flight tests next month if everything goes as expected.
The return of the 737 MAX will be one of the biggest logistical challenges of the Airline Industry
On the other hand, analysts point out another risk. According to a UK-based consultancy firm Cirium, any rapid rebound in 737 MAX deliveries could make it hard to absorb the aircraft for the market.
Although Boeing reduced the production rate of the aircraft after global grounding, it has continued to assemble 737 MAX jets and now plans to deliver 70 units per month to clear its backlog.
According to Morris, the return of the 737 MAX will be one of the industry’s biggest-ever logistical challenges.
Next year is the challenge. When the dam breaks and the MAX starts to flow, there are going to be a lot of aircraft. There could potentially be as many as 1,000 surplus aircraft next year.
said Rob Morris, global head of Cirium consulting.