The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today rescinded the order that halted commercial operations of Boeing 737-8 and 737-9 aircraft.
The move will allow airlines that are under the FAA's jurisdiction, including those in the U.S., to take the steps necessary to resume service and Boeing to begin making deliveries.
In 2018, all 346 people on board the two flights - a Lion Air 737 MAX 8, and the same model operated by Ethiopian Airlines - were killed in crashes, causing worldwide grounding of Boeing MAX jets. The planemaker had suspended production of these jets, shifting its focus to deliver 400 of them kept in storage in December 2019.
In September, the company said the aircraft undertook 1,300 test flights besides 75,000 engineering and test hours of the revised design of its 737 Max aircraft which had received intensive internal and regulatory review.
"We will never forget the lives lost in the two tragic accidents that led to the decision to suspend operations," said David Calhoun, chief executive officer of The Boeing Company. "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."
Throughout the past 20 months, Boeing worked closely with airlines, providing them with detailed recommendations regarding long-term storage and ensuring their input was part of the effort to safely return the airplanes to service.
An Airworthiness Directive issued by the FAA spells out the requirements that must be met before U.S. carriers can resume service, including installing software enhancements, completing wire separation modifications, conducting pilot training and accomplishing thorough de-preservation activities that will ensure the airplanes are ready for service.
"The FAA's directive is an important milestone," said Stan Deal, president and chief executive officer of Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "We will continue to work with regulators around the world and our customers to return the airplane back into service worldwide.”
In addition to changes made to the airplane and pilot training, Boeing will bring 50,000 engineers together in a single organization that includes a new Product & Services Safety unit, unifying safety responsibilities across the company.