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FAA clears Boeing 737 Max planes to return to service

FAA clears Boeing 737 Max planes to return to service
© Getty

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has cleared Boeing’s 737 Max aircraft to return to service nearly two years after a pair of deadly crashes grounded the planes.

The aviation company grounded all Max flights last March after the crashes, one on a flight that originated in Indonesia and the other from Ethiopia, killed a total of 346 people.

“The design and certification of this aircraft included an unprecedented level of collaborative and independent reviews by aviation authorities around the world,” the FAA said in a statement Wednesday.

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“Those regulators have indicated that Boeing’s design changes, together with the changes to crew procedures and training enhancements, will give them the confidence to validate the aircraft as safe to fly in their respective countries and regions,” the agency added.

Probes into the two crashes indicated that an anti-stalling system was activated in both cases due to inaccurate sensor readings. Pilots had not been briefed on the system, and a House investigation determined the deaths were “preventable,” citing regulatory, management and design failures.

Boeing has since made the security system less sensitive, but any airlines with 737 Max planes in their fleets will still have to train pilots in flying the aircraft, according to CNBC. The FAA will need to approve any new pilot training program revisions and all airlines must perform maintenance on the planes before returning them to the air.

“Throughout our transparent process, we cooperated closely with our foreign counterparts on every aspect of the return to service,” the FAA said in its statement. “Additionally, Administrator [Steve] Dickson personally took the recommended pilot training and piloted the Boeing 737 MAX, so he could experience the handling of the aircraft firsthand.

American Airlines is set to reintroduce the planes for commercial flights in late September, while executives at United and Southwest have said theirs will likely return to the air at some point in 2021.