Head of Europe’s aviation regulator says he’s satisfied with changes made to Boeing MAX aircraft

FAA chief Steve Dickson sitting inside the flight deck of a Boeing 737 MAX, conducting a pre-flight check ahead of take-off from Boeing Field on September 30, 2020 in Seattle, Washington.

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Shares of Boeing were rising in premarket trading on Friday, after the head of Europe’s aviation regulator said that safety upgrades the company has made to its MAX aircraft could mean it returns to the region’s airspace this year.

Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), made the comments in an interview with Bloomberg. The aviation body is reviewing final documents ahead of a Proposed Airworthiness Directive (PAD) for the Boeing 737 MAX due to be published next month for public consultation.

Once that consultation is over, a final Airworthiness Directive will be published, a spokesperson for EASA told MarketWatch in emailed comments. In the interview, Ky said it will take up to two years for Boeing to develop a further upgrade in the form of a synthetic sensor that his agency has requested.

That sensor will be required on a bigger MAX 10 that’s set to debut in 2022 and retroffited on other MAX models. Ky said his agency’s analysis shows that change has helped Boeing reach a satisfactory level of safety on the jet.

The MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 following two deadly crashes inside of five months. Boeing said Tuesday that it delivered 28 commercial airplanes in the third quarter, a 55% drop from 62 delivered in the third quarter of 2019. Shares of Boeing have lost nearly 50% so far this year.

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