Boeing 737 MAX returns to United States, European skies

February 1, 2021
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Troubled Boeing 737 MAX aircraft has returned to flights in the United States and European skies following clearance by the apex civil aviation regulatory bodies: Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Last week, EASA cleared the Boeing 737 MAX to fly again in European skies, 22 months after the plane was grounded following two fatal crashes.

Last September, EASA also performed its test flights on the MAX in Canada, as part of a recertification on the grounded planes, which have not flown since March 2019, after two crashes that together killed 346 people — the 2018 Lion Air disaster in Indonesia and an Ethiopian Airlines crash the following year.

Investigators said the main cause of crashes was a faulty flight handling system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS).

While there is global apprehension over the aircraft given the number of persons that died in crashes, the technology of the aircraft is still a subject of debate among industry professionals, passengers and safety advocates.

Meanwhile, there is palpable anxiety among African carriers over the possible return of the troubled aircraft as the African Civil Aviation Commission (AFCAC) was yet to take a position on the return of the aircraft.

Ethiopian Airlines is among the carriers in Africa that has the aircraft type in their fleet.

Besides, Ethioipian Airlines, some Nigerian carriers had indicated interest in the aircraft type before the last fatal crashes.

Though the carriers have not jettisoned the order for the aircraft type, investigations reveal that the operators are firming discussions with other aircraft manufacturers to boost their fleet.

A source said they were looking the way of Brazilian aircraft maker – Embraer and French airplane – ATR as well as Canadian plane maker – Bombardier.

Studies by an analytical group indicated that African carriers were shifting in the direction of turbo propeller aircraft because of their fuel economy, reduced number of crew and other considerations.

While Air Peace, for instance, is pushing for more Embraer aircraft, new entrants – United Africa Airlines and Green Africa Airways are pushing for ATR and Bombardier aircraft.

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