Crash victims' families urge EU agency to delay lifting of 737 Max ban

A Boeing 737 Max 7 aircraft lands during an evaluation flight at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, Sept 30, 2020.
A Boeing 737 Max 7 aircraft lands during an evaluation flight at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, Sept 30, 2020.PHOTO: REUTERS

CHICAGO • Relatives of Boeing 737 Max crash victims have urged the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) to delay approving the aircraft's return to service, saying there are unanswered questions about its safety.

Last month, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cleared the jet following design changes around systems involved in two crashes that together killed 346 people in 2018 and last year, sparking a global grounding and safety reviews.

EASA has said it could formally lift its own ban next month, once public and industry feedback on its conditions for putting the jet back into service has been studied.

In a letter to EASA executive director Patrick Ky and in comments filed with the agency on Tuesday, relatives and friends of Ethiopian Airlines crash victims said it should first finish its analysis of the modified aircraft and complete its safety report on the crash.

"It would be impossible for EASA to conclude that the revised 737 Max is safe before its own safety assessment is complete," they said in the letter.

An EASA spokesman said the agency does not comment on any received feedback at this stage of the recertification process.

It plans to publish the final airworthiness directive next month, once all the feedback has been reviewed, he said.

The families also called into question the FAA's decision to lift its flight ban following a Senate Commerce Committee report last Friday that concluded the agency and Boeing officials colluded during 737 Max recertification testing.

Alaska Air Group announced on Tuesday that it is boosting an order agreement with Boeing to buy 68 737 Max jets, buttressing Boeing's effort to sell the Max amid the longest grounding in US history.

REUTERS, BLOOMBERG

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 24, 2020, with the headline 'Crash victims' families urge EU agency to delay lifting of 737 Max ban'. Subscribe