EU and British regulators clear Boeing 737 Max for flights

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PARIS (AFP) - The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and its British counterpart on Wednesday (Jan 27) cleared the Boeing 737 Max to fly again in European skies, 22 months after the plane was grounded following two fatal crashes.

"Following extensive analysis by EASA, we have determined that the 737 Max can safely return to service," EASA director Patrick Ky said in a statement.

"This assessment was carried out in full independence of Boeing or the (American) Federal Aviation Administration and without any economic or political pressure," the agency added.

The Max was grounded in March 2019 after two crashes that together killed 346 people - the 2018 Lion Air disaster in Indonesia and an Ethiopian Airlines crash the following year.

Investigators said a main cause of both crashes was a faulty flight handling system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS.

Meant to keep the plane from stalling as it ascends, the automated system instead forced the nose of the plane downward.

The findings plunged Boeing into crisis, with more than 650 orders for the 737 Max cancelled since last year.

The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ordered Boeing to revamp the jet and implement new pilot training protocols, before finally approving the plane for a return to service in November.

Britain's Civil Aviation Authority also on Wednesday granted its approval for the 737 Max to return to service.

"The UK Civil Aviation Authority has today announced that it will allow UK airlines to operate passenger flights with the Boeing 737 Max aircraft, subject to close oversight," the CAA said in a statement.

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