The United States on Wednesday lifted a 20-month-old ban on Boeing’s 737 MAX aircraft, which was grounded after two fatal air crashes, Reuters reported. Almost 350 people died in two crashes involving the aircraft model in 2019.
The order to withdraw the ban was signed by US Federal Aviation Administration chief Steve Dickson. The organisation also released a list of training and system-related upgrades which Boeing and the airlines must complete before they start transporting passengers.
“We’ve done everything humanly possible to make sure these types of crashes do not happen again,” Dickson was quoted as saying by BBC.
Boeing Chief Executive Dave Calhoun told BBC that the firm had learnt lessons from the air crashes and improved its systems. “We will never forget the lives lost in the two tragic accidents that led to the decision to suspend operations,” he said. “These events and the lessons we have learned as a result have reshaped our company and further focused our attention on our core values of safety, quality and integrity.”
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The families of the people killed in the air crashes have criticised the decision. They said in a statement that they felt “sheer disappointment and renewed grief” after the aircraft was cleared to fly, Reuters reported.
The Directorate General of Civil Aviation, India’s aviation regulator, said that it will take some time to reach a decision on allowing Boeing 737 MAX planes to fly in the country again, PTI reported. The aviation regulator added that it will study US’ decision to lift the ban on the aircraft.
In March 2019, 157 people died when Ethiopian Airlines flight JT610 crashed minutes after takeoff. In October 2018, 189 were killed as Lion Air’s flight ET302 crashed off the coast of Indonesia. Both crashes involved the 737 MAX model. In April that year, Boeing had announced plans to cut back production of the 737 MAX aircraft after several countries grounded the aircraft following the crashes.
Boeing was heavily criticised following the accidents, with several analysts saying that the aircraft manufacturer had been warned multiple times about the 737 MAX model.