Europe Says 737 Max Won’t Fly Until Its Design Review Complete

(Bloomberg) -- The European Aviation Safety Agency is running a parallel investigation into the design of Boeing Co.’s 737 Max and says it won’t clear the grounded jet to fly again until that is finished.

“The completion of the independent EASA design review is a prerequisite to the return to service of the aircraft for EASA,” a spokesman for the agency said Tuesday by email.

The decision to conduct its own review is not unusual for the European regulator but underscores a splintering in trust between the world’s two most important safety agencies triggered by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration’s response to the crash of an Ethiopian Airways Max jet in March. EASA issued instructions to carriers to ground the aircraft ahead of the FAA, breaking previous convention.

“The FAA’s status as an undisputed global leader is seen as ‘at risk,”’ Carter Copeland, an analyst at Melius Research said in a note prior to EASA’s comments. “EASA has asserted a strong and independent posture and despite pressures from Max operators in Europe, is expected to move slowly in its efforts to recertify the Max.”

The FAA is conducting a Joint Authorities Technical Review, which consists of eight other countries and EASA, that will review the Max’s original certification. That work is expected to take three months with initial meetings held in Seattle last week. The U.S. agency has also called for a separate summit of aviation authorities later this month to discuss the FAA’s safety analysis of the aircraft that it says will “inform its decision” on allowing the Max back into service.

“EASA is participating to the ongoing JATR review, in parallel to the independent design review that EASA is performing, with different expert teams involved,” the EASA spokesman said.

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