MONTREAL / WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Transport Canada is expected to announce the approval of design changes to Boeing’s 737 MAX as early as Thursday, in a first step towards the plane’s return to the country’s skies after a flight ban of nearly two years, two sources familiar with the case said.
The Canadian regulator, however, is not expected to issue an immediate airworthiness directive, which is necessary to help pave the way for lifting the ban on commercial flights.
The two sources spoke on condition of anonymity because Transport Canada’s decision has not yet been made public.
Canada was one of the last major countries before the United States to bring the MAX to a standstill in March 2019, following two crashes that killed a total of 346 people.
A spokeswoman for Transport Canada declined to comment on Wednesday evening.
Transport Canada’s move would follow earlier announcements by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Boeing’s main regulator, the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which lifted its own ban on November 18.
Canada’s two largest carriers, Air Canada, and privately held WestJet Airlines, both fly the plane.
Brazilian Gol last week became the world’s first airline to fly the Boeing 737 MAX commercially since the planes were grounded, while American Airlines resumes commercial service at the end of the month.
Much like EASA, Transport Canada has previously said there will be differences between what the FAA has approved for the MAX and what Canada will require for its airlines, such as training.
“The fact that Canada has chosen to include additional measures does not imply that aircraft flying under FAA surveillance are unsafe,” Transport Canada said by email in November.