Transportation

Canada gives OK to Boeing 737 Max changes but planes still grounded

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Key Points
  • Transport Canada has approved design changes to the plane, among them enabling pilots to disable a faulty warning system that was found to be central to the crashes.
  • The Boeing Max can fly again in Canada once it meets Ottawa's criteria for procedures and training.
  • The planes were grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two crashes, one of which killed 18 Canadians in Ethiopia.
A Boeing 737 MAX airplane lands after a test flight at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, U.S. June 29, 2020.
Karen Ducey | Reuters

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 in 2018 and 2019.

Federal Transport Minister Marc Garneau told reporters Thursday that Transport Canada has approved design changes to the plane, among them enabling pilots to disable a faulty warning system that was found to be central to the crashes.

Transport Canada says the changes will help reduce pilot workload.

Garneau explained that the announcement is the first step in the aircraft's recertification, and will be followed up on in January when Canada releases its directive requiring Canadian modifications.

He says the Boeing Max can fly again in Canada once it meets Ottawa's criteria for procedures and training.

The planes were grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two crashes, one of which killed 18 Canadians in Ethiopia.

Garneau said Canadians who are still worried about the aircraft should know that Canada has played a leadership role in contributing to the fix being put into place.

"This plane has been looked at very, very carefully because we want to make sure that we absolutely fix it," he said. "We feel very confident that we have done our homework properly."

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 17, 2020.

Correction: The Boeing 737 Max was grounded in March 2019. A previous version misstated the date.