Europe』s aviation safety agency has set out strict conditions before it will allow Boeing』s 737 Max aircraft back into the skies, in a sign of the depth of the rift emerging among regulators after two deadly crashes.
EASA has told US regulator the Federal Aviation Authority and Boeing that it has three 「pre-requisite conditions」, including demands that design changes for the plane be approved by the European agency, before it will lift the grounding of the Max.
Indonesia, site of the first accident last October when a Lion Air flight crashed into the sea, has also heaped pressure on the FAA by revealing that it was considering seeking a second assessment of the US regulator』s review of Boeing』s software update.
Yesterday Polana Pramesti, Indonesia』s director-general for air transport, said the country might ask EASA or Transport Canada for a second opinion.
In order for Indonesia to be comfortable with the Boeing 737 Max, she said, the company 「has to fix not only the aircraft but also we need to increase the level of confidence [among] pilots and passengers」.
Ms Polana accused Boeing of being 「arrogant」, and said the company was still not sharing sufficient information about the plane, pointing to training required for the Max as a cause for concern.
Based on conversations Ms Polana had with the company three weeks ago, Boeing still said that pilots only needed computer-based training for this type of aeroplane.
「But this is an aircraft. This is not an iPad,」 she said, adding that updates on training requirements might be shared at a meeting of regulators in Texas today to review Boeing』s application to get the Max back in the air.
Her comments underline the depth of concerns over the FAA』s role in originally certifying the Max.
The agency has come under intense criticism in the wake of the two tragedies and for being the last regulator to ground the plane after the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302 on March 10.
The FAA has been aiming to reassure fellow regulators at the Texas meeting about its process for allowing the Max to fly again, in the expectation that others will follow suit not too long afterwards.
US officials are keen to protect the present system by which regulators accept each others』 certification.
They argue that if each country insists on its own checks to new aircraft, it could double or treble the cost of a jet and add to the flying cost for passengers.
The European agency』s conditions are that any design changes by Boeing be EASA-approved and mandated, that an additional independent design review conducted by the agency be completed, and that Max flight crews 「have been adequately trained」.
「We are working on having the 737 Max 8 return to service as soon as possible, but only once there is complete reassurance that it is safe,」 a spokesman said.
Patrick Ky, EASA』s executive director, said in March that the agency would not allow the plane to resume service until it was satisfied, irrespective of what the FAA decided.