Europe, Canada move to put Boeing 737 Max back in air

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Jan. 19 (UPI) — European and Canadian officials have approved plans for the Boeing 737 Max, grounded after 346 people died in two crashes, to fly again soon.

The Boeing 737 Max was grounded worldwide for almost two years after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia within five months in 2018 and 2019. The aircraft’s automated flight control Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System pushed both planes into a nose-dive after a faulty sensor. Since then, Boeing has addressed the European Aviation Safety Agency concerns, the Financial Times reported, including modification of the automated flight control.

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European Union Aviation Safety Agency Executive Director Patrick Ky said in a briefing Tuesday the airworthiness directive to recertify the Boeing 737 Max to fly will be published next week.

”We expect to publish it next week, which means the Max will be cleared to fly,” Ky said.

Ky said next iteration of the 737 Max would be enhanced to detect potentially faulty sensor reading. Recertification means the Boeing 737 Max could return to the European skies by the summer.

On Monday, Transport Canada announced it’s completed a nearly two-year review of the aircraft and issued an airworthiness directive, allowing the models to fly again in Canada starting Wednesday.

WestJet is expected to become the first Canadian airline to fly the Max again between Calgary and Vancouver on Thursday.

In December, American Airlines and Brazil’s Gol Airlines resumed service of the Boeing 737 Max after the Federal Aviation Administration certified the software fix and deemed the plane airworthy.

Recently, a U.S. Senate committee released new findings that the FAA shirked safety protocols and retaliated against whistleblowers after a probe into the agency’s oversight following the fatal crashes.

Ky said that due to findings of the FAA’s lax oversight, the EASA would independently assess elements on U.S. aircraft for safety.

Transport Canada similarly said that Boeing 737 Max plans must meet conditions specified by the country’s transportation agency, including allowing pilots to disable the faulty warning system that played a role in the two fatal crashes.

“Canadians and the airline industry can rest assured that Transport Canada has diligently addressed all safety issues prior to permitting this aircraft to return to service in Canadian airspace,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said.