The 737 Max on the ground could take the first step towards being cleared for flight this week, according to the families of the victims of the crash

Canadian families who lost loved ones aboard a Boeing 737 Max in 2019 say Transport Canada told them as early as Thursday it could take the first step towards potentially clearing the plane to fly again .

The plane was immobilized for 20 months following two fatal accidents. In March 2019, an Ethiopian Airlines flight plunged southeast of the capital Addis Ababa minutes after takeoff, killing everyone on board, including 18 Canadians and a family of permanent residents in Canada.

Five months earlier, another 737 Max owned by Lion Air had plunged into the Java Sea shortly after takeoff, killing all 189 passengers.

Danielle, the 24-year-old daughter of Chris Moore, died in the Ethiopian crash. He participated in a video call this afternoon with a dozen other families of victims, Transport Minister Marc Garneau and several Transport Canada officials. Moore said they were told the planes would soon be allowed to fly again.

“They were very convinced that they were going to dismantle it,” Moore told CBC News.

He said the tragedy had “anchored” the families of the victims.

“For the whole world to crash like this, you will never be able to restart… You wake up in the middle of the night sweating with your heart pounding and seething with nightmares. ”

Moore said three people on the call – Nicholas Robinson, director general of civil aviation at Transport Canada, Dave Turnbull, the department’s head of aircraft certification and a test pilot – assured families that the ministry’s review process for the aircraft was extensive.

Danielle Moore, 24, died on March 10, 2019 when an Ethiopian Airlines plane crashed on its way from Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, to Nairobi, Kenya. All 149 passengers and eight crew members on board were killed. (Submitted by David Moore)

Return to ‘complex’ service

Garneau’s office told CBC News that at 6:48 p.m., no final decision on whether to validate the modifications to the plane had yet been made and said “commercial flight restrictions” remained in place.

“I must also stress that even if Canada validates, that does not mean that it has the green light to fly,” Garneau director of communications Amy Butcher said in a statement. “A number of steps must first be taken, including the approval of the Airworthiness Directive. ”

Butcher said this “probably won’t happen until January 2021”.

“This would also include a safety maintenance plan, given that these planes have been idle for 20 months,” Butcher said. “A return-to-service plan is very complex and will take time to complete. ”

But Moore and other grieving family members say they still have safety issues they don’t believe have been resolved and they don’t want the fleet to be allowed to fly so soon.

“I don’t feel good,” he said. “I think it was going to happen someday, although it shouldn’t from my point of view. There are still a lot of questions about the safety of this aircraft. ”

Chris Moore demonstrated in front of Transport Canada on the anniversary of the Ethiopian Airlines crash that killed his 24-year-old daughter, Danielle. (Ashley Burke / CBC)

Independent review

About two weeks ago, the United States cleared the 737 Max for flight again. Transport Canada is working with the United States Federal Aviation Administration and has received a directive listing the modifications to the aircraft. Departmental safety experts conducted their own independent review of the proposed modifications to determine whether the aircraft is safe to fly again.

Ethiopia’s investigative report pointed to Boeing, saying flaws in the plane’s design were the cause of the crash. Inaccurate sensor readings activated the MCAS anti-stall system, which pointed the nose of the plane as pilots struggled to straighten it, according to the report.

Robinson testified before MPs on the transport committee last week, telling them that while Transport Canada worked with other authorities around the world, their work should not be seen as an “automatic approval process.” He said their experts had conducted flight tests this summer and he was proud of the changes to the plane his team had “helped shape”.

“Our safety experts are in the process of finalizing their independent validation process to determine whether they should approve the proposed modifications to the aircraft,” Robinson said on November 26.

“Transport Canada remains firm in its commitment that the Boeing 737 MAX will not be permitted to fly in Canada until we confirm that the changes have been made to the aircraft and that proper procedures and training are provided for it. flight crew are in place. ”

Garneau said earlier this month that if Canada allowed the plane to fly again, it would be subject to conditions.

“These differences will include additional cockpit and pre-flight procedures, as well as differences in training,” he said in a statement.

Rescuers work at the scene of an Ethiopian Airlines plane crash south of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, March 11, 2019. (Mulugeta Ayene / The Associated Press)

Investigation blocked

For the past year, families have been asking the federal government to launch an independent investigation into why Canada did not land the 737 Max after the first crash – and what it knew after the second disaster.

But the Liberals and Conservatives blocked the NDP motion at Thursday’s transport committee hearing, leaving the families of the victims devastated.

Moore and Paul Njoroge testified last week before the committee that the plane should remain grounded until after an investigation. Njoroge lost his family in the Ethiopian Airlines crash – his wife, three children and his stepmother.

“I still have nightmares about how my wife must have felt helpless, seeing the fear in our children’s eyes, knowing they were going to die,” he told the committee on November 24.

“We want Transport Canada to come back to the drawing board… I think this is the only way Canadians can feel safe getting on a 737 Max. ”

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