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Boeing 737 MAX could soon return to Canadian skies as officials OK design changes

Click to play video: 'Garneau says ‘more steps to take’ after Transport Canada approves design changes to Boeing’s 737 MAX 8' Garneau says ‘more steps to take’ after Transport Canada approves design changes to Boeing’s 737 MAX 8
WATCH: Marc Garneau says there are still "more steps to take" after Transport Canada approves design changes to Boeing's 737 MAX 8 – Dec 17, 2020

Transport Canada announced Thursday that it has approved the design changes for Boeing’s 737 MAX 8 — an aircraft that has been grounded for nearly two years due to a pair of tragic crashes that killed 346 people.

In a press release, the regulator said it completed an independent review of the design changes and has validated them.

Read more: 737 Max soon to be approved by Transport Canada, crash victims’ families told

This means the 737 MAX design changes can now be “incorporated on Canadian registered aircraft,” Transport Canada said.

The design approval comes a few weeks after the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cleared the planes for flight in November.

“Transport Canada has worked extensively with the FAA and other key certifying authorities … as well as the three Canadian operators of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, and their pilot unions throughout the validation process of the aircraft to ensure all factors are addressed prior to a safe return to service of the aircraft,” the regulator said.

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The design approval is the first step toward bringing the aircraft back to Canadian airspace.

Regulators around the world grounded the MAX in March 2019, after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet, killing all 157 people on board, including 18 Canadians.

The crash happened less than five months after another MAX, flown by Indonesia’s Lion Air, plunged into the Java Sea. All passengers and crew members on the plane were killed.

Click to play video: 'New details emerge regarding deadly Lion Air crash involving Boeing 737 MAX 8' New details emerge regarding deadly Lion Air crash involving Boeing 737 MAX 8
New details emerge regarding deadly Lion Air crash involving Boeing 737 MAX 8 – Mar 21, 2019

Canada’s two largest airlines, Air Canada and West Jet, both fly the aircraft, as well as Sunwing Airlines.

A U.S. House panel completed an investigation into the crashes in September. A final report said Boeing failed in its design and development of the MAX, and the FAA failed in its oversight of Boeing and its certification of the aircraft.

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The report detailed a list of problems in the plane’s design and concluded the crashes “were not the result of a singular failure, technical mistake, or mismanaged event.”

The full approval of the Boeing 737 MAX in Canada still not complete. Transport Canada said it still has to put in place “comprehensive safety plans” that require additional aircraft changes, maintenance and training.

“Transport Canada will work with Canadian airline operators, crews and union associations over the coming weeks to determine how these requirements will be implemented in Canada,” the regulator said.

Read more: Future of Boeing 737 MAX hangs on customer confidence and COVID-19

The Canadian design changes for the Boeing 737 MAX will include an “enhanced flight deck procedure that provides the option for a pilot-in-command to disable a loud and intrusive warning system when the system has been erroneously activated by a failure in the angle of attack sensor system.”

This feature will help to reduce pilot workload given what has been learned from the two tragic accidents and has been fully evaluated by Transport Canada’s flight test pilots. There will also be differences in training including training on the enhanced flight deck procedure, Transport Canada said.

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