BEAUTY IN THE FRIDGE

News: CAA clears Boeing 737 Max for return to UK airspace

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The UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) has announced that it will allow UK airlines to operate passenger flights with the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

The body said the plane would still be subject to close oversight as it returns to service after two fatal crashes.

The ban on the aircraft operating in UK airspace, which has been in place since spring 2019, will also be removed. 

It follows similar decisions by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transport Canada.

The move follows the approval of design modifications to the aircraft itself, how it is flown and to pilot training. 

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This has included modification to the manoeuvring characteristics augmentation system (MCAS) and other key safety changes aimed at preventing further accidents.

Richard Moriarty, chief executive at the UK Civil Aviation Authority, said: “Our thoughts remain with those affected by the tragic accidents of the Boeing 737 Max.

“This is not a decision we have taken lightly, and we would not have allowed a return to service for UK operators, or lifted the ban on the aircraft operating in UK airspace, unless we were satisfied that the aircraft type is airworthy and can be operated safely.

“The international work to return the Boeing 737 Max to the skies has been the most extensive project of this kind ever undertaken in civil aviation and shows how important the cooperation between states and regulators is to maintaining safety.”

The CAA said it had been closely involved in this approval work and the extensive process undertaken by all involved.

Official said they were in close contact with TUI, currently the only UK operator of the aircraft, as it returns its aircraft to service.

The removal of the airspace ban will allow foreign operators to fly the Boeing 737 MAX in UK airspace.

All airlines, however, will need to go through the necessary steps to return the aircraft to service, including pilot training, which may slow the UK return of the aircraft.

Two Boeing 737 Max planes were involved in accidents – Lion Air Flight 610 on October 29th, 2018, and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 on March 10th, 2019.

The CAA has based its decision to allow a return to service on detailed information from EASA, the FAA and Boeing, in addition to extensive engagement with airline operators and pilot representative organisations.

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