777-9: Europe won’t accept FAA approvals

In a serious break with prior conventions, the European Air and Space Agency, EASA which acts as the E.U. version of the FAA, covering 28 countries, and also providing many African and Asian authorities with approvals data, has said it will conduct its own separate approvals process for the 777-9.

This is a double blow for Boeing as EASA has said the same thing for the 737 MAX.

In even worse news for Boeing, the FAA on Wednesday said that it would not permit Boeing to self authorise any of the existing grounded 737 MAX aircraft, nor any awaiting delivery. It’s going to individually certify each aircraft itself.

The FAA is trying to restore its reputation for impartial independence and is rapidly distancing itself from Boeing and the old self-certification process.

EASA’s 777-9 decision however is a blow to the FAA – it effectively says that its no longer trusting the FAA to be reliable, and that Boeing still has too much influence over approvals.

For first customers Emirates and Lufthansa it presents an interesting conundrum. Neither will be able to fly the aircraft in or over European air space until EASA gives its approval even if the FAA has certified the aircraft.

Normally the EASA approval is a paperwork exercise in conjunction with the FAA – approvals have been near simultaneous in the past.

The danger here is that with the Trump administration’s notorious habit for vindictive tit for tat, the FAA may well be pressed to do the same to EASA and not approve new Airbus aircraft.

Somewhere along the line the FAA will have to give EASA assurances it can accept they can work together – in the meantime the rift looks set to deepen.