Canada OKs return of Boeing 737 Max aircraft

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MONTREAL (AP) — The Boeing 737 Max can return to Canadian airspace beginning Wednesday, officials said, concluding nearly two years of government review after the aircraft was involved in two deadly crashes that saw the planes grounded worldwide.

Transport Canada said Monday the planes will be permitted to fly as long as they meet conditions specified by Transport Canada in December, including allowing pilots to disable a faulty warning system that was found to be central to two deadly crashes in 2018 and 2019.

“Canadians and the airline industry can rest assured that Transport Canada has diligently addressed all safety issues prior to permitting this aircraft to return to service in Canadian airspace,” Transport Minister Omar Alghabra said in a statement.

The measures go beyond those announced by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration in November, which required Boeing to make changes to the computer systems inside the plane and required pilots to undergo training in flight simulators.

The planes have been grounded since March 2019 following the crashes of a Lion Air flight near Jakarta on Oct. 29, 2018, and an Ethiopian Airlines flight on March 10, 2019, killing a total of 346 people. Investigators determined that the cause of the crashes was a faulty computer system that pushed the plane’s nose downward in flight and couldn’t be overridden by pilots.

Boeing admitted in court filings that two of its technical pilot experts deceived the U.S. FAA about a flight-control system called the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS, that could point a plane’s nose down if sensors indicated the plane might be in danger of an aerodynamic stall — that it might fall from the sky.

The system was not part of previous 737 models. MCAS was added because the Max’s larger engines, which are mounted higher and farther forward on the 737’s low-swept wings, gave the plane a tendency to tilt too far nose-up in some conditions.

Boeing downplayed the significance of MCAS and didn’t mention it in airplane manuals. Most pilots didn’t know about it.