Boeing’s 737 Max jet was approved for flight nearly two years after it hit aground after a few fatal crashes.
The U.S. Air Safety Agency gave the green light, saying the decision was made after an extensive and methodical evaluation process lasting 20 months.
The Max was banned from flying in March 2019 after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines jet, less than five months after another Max, flown by Lion Air from Indonesia, mysteriously plunged into the Java Sea.
All 346 passengers and crew of both aircraft perished.
The planes will not return to the air immediately because the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) says it must approve changes to pilot training for each U.S. airline and airlines must perform required maintenance on the planes.
The FAA says the move was made in conjunction with air safety regulators around the world.
Before the flight ban, Ryanair had 135 aircraft on order, while Tui UK and British Airways would also take delivery of the jets.
“Those regulators have indicated that Boeing’s design changes, along with changes to crew procedures and training improvements, will give them the confidence to validate that the aircraft is safe to fly in their respective countries and regions,” the FAA said in a statement. statement.
Anti-stall software to counter the tendency of the aircraft to tip nose up due to the size and placement of the engines was linked to the malfunctions. It pushed the nose down on both crashed planes, causing pilots to lose control.
Boeing has changed the software that does not override the pilot’s controls. Pilots also had to undergo simulator training, which was not necessary when the aircraft was introduced.
Sales of new aircraft have fallen sharply as a result of the Max crisis and the coronavirus pandemic. Orders for more than 1,000 Max jets have been canceled or removed from Boeing’s order book this year.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which has started its own testing program, has maintained that FAA approval does not automatically mean the aircraft is considered airworthy in Europe.
“These events and the lessons learned from them have reshaped our business and further focused our attention on our core values of safety, quality and integrity,” Boeing’s current CEO David Calhoun said in a statement.
Boeing’s then-CEO Dennis Muilenburg initially suggested the pilots were to blame. However, researchers predicted that there would be 15 more crashes during the life of the plane if the flight control software were not repaired.
Investigators said Boeing was suffering from a “hidden culture” and pressured engineers to get the plane on the market.