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The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the United States has authorized the return to operations of the Boeing 737 MAX, which had been grounded since March 2019 after two fatal accidents.
The FAA assures that modifications in the software, design and pilot training to fly this model have made the airplane safe.
With the annulment of the order that prohibited the commercial operations of the 737-8 and 737-9 by the FAA, the airlines operating under the jurisdiction of the said authority will be able to start the process to resume operations, and the manufacturer will be able to resume deliveries.
The model was blocked by airline regulators around the world after two accidents that took place within a six-month period: one in Indonesia and one in Ethiopia, in which a total of 346 people died.
“We will never forget the lives that were lost in these two tragic accidents,” said David Calhoun, CEO of The Boeing Company, in a statement after the certification was made public, adding that “these events and the lessons learned have changed the company and it now focuses more on the core values of safety, quality and integrity.”
The crisis has cost Boeing close to 20,000 million dollars (16,856 million euros), including the cancellations of aircraft orders (estimated at around 1,000) and the compensation it must pay to the victims and the airlines. During that time Boeing continued to build aircraft and has about 450 stored at its facilities. Now, all of them must undergo updating and maintenance before they can fly.
Boeing has been working on updates to the 737 MAX during these 20 months in which air authorities around the world had banned the model. In this time, the company worked with the airlines by providing recommendations on how to maintain the aircraft during the time they remain on the ground, as well as asking useful information for the process of improving the aircraft. In addition, they carried out test flights supervised by the authorities of the United States, Canada, Brazil and the European Union to achieve certification.
FAA certification allows the B737 MAX to be operated again but only in the US and once Boeing updates each aircraft’s software and pilots are trained in flight simulators. The FAA has issued a guideline specifying the requirements that US airline planes must meet before taking off again, including installing new software, separating the cables, following measures to correctly prepare the aircraft after months grounded, and how to train pilots in the new system.
Even so, the company will continue to work with the rest of regulators and airlines worldwide to ensure that the model continues to be operational, as highlighted by Stan Deal, CEO of Boeing Commercial Airplanes.