MONTREAL (AP) — Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft is a step closer to returning to Canadian skies, nearly two years after being grounded due to technical issues that resulted in two deadly crashes involving foreign airlines.
Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau told said Thursday that Transport Canada has approved design changes to the plane, among them allowing pilots to disable a faulty warning system that was found to be central to the crashes in 2018 and 2019.
“Today is the validation, which means that we recognize the modifications that have been made to fix the problem with the Max 8,” Garneau said. “However, there’s still another step to take, and that will be done in January, when we will, as Canada, emit what we call an airworthiness directive.”
After the government issues the directive, airlines will be permitted to fly the Boeing Max again in Canada, provided that they meet Ottawa’s criteria for procedures and training.
The government’s announcement comes several weeks after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration cleared the Max for flight, as long as carriers implement certain design fixes and provide specialized training to pilots.
Transport Canada said at the time that its independent review process would impose requirements on the Max that go above and beyond those by U.S. authorities.
In particular, Transport Canada will require that Max pilots in Canada be allowed to disable a “loud and intrusive″ warning system that will reduce workload for pilots in the event of a problem, the agency said in a statement Thursday.
The planes were grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two crashes, one of which killed 18 Canadians in Ethiopia. Subsequent investigations found that the crashes were caused by a faulty sensor that pushed the plane’s nose downward in flight.