UK gives go-ahead for 737 Max to return to skies

Neil Lancefield, PA Transport Correspondent
·2-min read

The UK has lifted its ban on the Boeing 737 Max aircraft due to “significant changes” following two deadly crashes, the Civil Aviation Authority has announced.

Modifications to the design of the planes, the way they are flown and pilot training mean they can safely return to the skies, according to the regulator.

This follows similar decisions in the US, Canada and by Europe’s aviation body.

A total of 346 passengers and crew died when 737 Max aircraft operated by Lion Air and Ethiopian Airlines crashed in October 2018 and March 2019 respectively.

Boeing 737 Max 8 anti-stall system (MCAS)
(PA Graphics)

The second crash led to the planes being grounded around the world, amid concerns that flight control software forced the aircraft to go into a dive.

CAA chief executive Richard Moriarty 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.”

Tui is the only UK operator of the 737 Max, although a number of foreign carriers also have the plane in their fleets.

Dublin-based Ryanair has 210 firm orders for the planes to be delivered between spring 2021 and December 2024.

Some British families of passengers killed in the Ethiopian Airlines crash had opposed the plane’s return to service, claiming “commercial interests are being put before safety”.