Shares in the US aviation giant were was up 2.5 percent around 1745 GMT after Patrick Ky, executive director of the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), told Bloomberg the plane could start flying before the end of the year.
The 737 MAX was grounded globally in 2019 after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people, plunging Boeing into crisis as the MAX underwent a lengthy review process.
Ky said Boeing would add a new sensor to the plane to prevent the types of problems that contributed to the crashes but that the plane could resume service even before that device is installed.
“Our analysis is showing that this is safe, and the level of safety reached is high enough for us,” Ky said in an interview. “What we discussed with Boeing is the fact that with the third sensor, we could reach even higher safety levels.”
The EASA completed test flights on the plane in September and is expected to issue a draft airworthiness directive in November, after which there will be four weeks of public comment, Bloomberg reported.
The regulator also has asked Boeing to install a “synthetic sensor” that would aid pilots should they face a malfunction in the angle of attack sensors, which occurred in both crashes. Existing 737 MAX models will be retrofitted with the new technology.
The US Federal Aviation Administration also is working to return the plane to service, conducting test flights and releasing pilot training protocols for the aircraft earlier this month with a public comment period open through November 2.
The agency called that “an important step” but said “several key milestones” remain before the plane can return to service.