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Transport Canada To Lift Boeing 737 Max Ban on January 20

Transport Canada expects to lift the Notam that bans the Boeing 737 Max from Canadian airspace on January 20 under the terms of an airworthiness directive that outlines the modifications needed to return the airplane to service, the agency said Monday. The AD, also issued on Monday, effectively concludes the department’s review of the aircraft and complements an interim order outlining Transport Canada’s expectations and requirements for additional training for operators. Since the agency approved the revised training program on December 21, pilots for the three Canadian Max operators–Air Canada, WestJet, and Sunwing–have engaged in the revised training.

Transport Canada said it spent “well over” 15,000 hours reviewing the Max. “This review has seen Canada take a significant leadership role in the overall project, helping shape many decisions taken by the state of design authorities, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA),” noted the Canadian authority. “It has also resulted in Transport Canada issuing its own unique airworthiness directive as opposed to the adoption of the FAA airworthiness directive.” Specifically, the Canadian design changes include an enhanced flight deck procedure that provides the option for a pilot-in-command to disable “a loud and intrusive warning system”–commonly called the stick shaker–when a failure in the angle of attack sensor activates the system. Transport Canada said its test pilots have fully evaluated the feature, which, it added, will help to reduce pilot workload.

Transport Canada clearance will come two months after the FAA cleared the Max to return to service in the U.S. Along with addressing new training requirements and software improvement, that AD requires completing wire separation modifications and accomplishing what Boeing called de-preservation activities to ensure the airplanes’ readiness for service. European authorities expect to finalize a November 24 proposed AD issued by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) by the end of January.

As in the case of the expected Transport Canada AD, a key difference between the FAA order and the EASA directive lies in a European provision for the flight crews to stop a stick shaker from continuing to vibrate in the event of an erroneous activation. Clearance from Brazilian authorities on November 26 essentially mimics the U.S. directive. Brazil’s Gol resumed Max operations on December 9, making it the first airline in the world to return the then-grounded airliner to scheduled service.

American Airlines became the first U.S. carrier to return the airplane to service on December 29.