The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday cleared Boeing’s 737 Max for flight, nearly two years after a pair of deadly crashes claimed 346 lives and grounded the plane worldwide.
The Federal Aviation Administration on Wednesday cleared Boeing‘s 737 Max for flight, nearly two years after a pair of deadly crashes claimed 346 lives and grounded the plane worldwide.
The nation’s air safety agency said it completed a “comprehensive and methodical” 20-month review process. U.S. airlines will be able to fly the Max again after Boeing updates key flight-control software and computers on each plane and pilots receive training in simulators.
The FAA also announced a new requirement that its experts — not Boeing officials — must approve the safety of each MAX plane before the aerospace giant delivers them to customers.
The agency said approval of the safety fixes reflects “an unprecedented level of collaborative and independent reviews by aviation authorities around the world.” It said the order rescinding the Max‘s grounding was made in cooperation with regulators around the world.
European regulators have said they intend to clear the Max for flight soon.
American is the only U.S. airline to put the Max back in its schedule so far, starting with one round trip daily between New York and Miami beginning Dec. 29. United expects to start using the plane early next year, while Southwest said its Max jets won’t fly before the second quarter of 2021.
Even as Boeing received the FAA‘s go-ahead, however, the company is grappling with canceled orders and diminished demand for air travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Regulators grounded the Max in March 2019, after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet. That disaster followed the crash in October 2018 in the Java Sea of another Max flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air.
Accident investigators determined that glitches in an automated flight-control system called MCAS led to the crashes. Boeing has spent two years fixing the system and revising pilot training.
Relatives say it’s too soon, and they and their lawyers say Boeing and the FAA are withholding documents. Anton Sahadi, who lives in Jakarta, Indonesia, and lost two brothers in the Lion Air crash, said it’s too early for the Max to fly again.
“The cases from the incidents are not 100% finished yet,” he said. “I think all the victims’ family in Indonesia and Ethiopia will feel the same, so regretful, why it can fly again because we are still in the recovery process for our problems because of the incidents.”
Naoise Ryan, an Irish citizen whose husband died in the Ethiopian crash, said the Max is “the same airplane that crashed not once but twice because safety was not a priority for this company.”
Boeing shares rose 4.3 percent after the FAA‘s announcement.
• This story is based in part on wire service reports.
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