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Brazil aviation agency is first foreign regulator to clear Boeing 737 Max to fly

By Dominic Gates, The Seattle Times on

Published in Business News

Brazil's national civil aviation authority on Wednesday became the first foreign air safety regulator to join the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in approving the Boeing 737 Max to fly passengers again.

The agency indicated that, like Europe's aviation regulator, it too is asking Boeing to make some further design improvements that would be retrofitted to the Max later.

In a statement, the Brazilian authority said that after "long independent work to reauthorize the operation of the aircraft," it agreed with and adopted the FAA evaluation that the immediate safety issues with the Max have been addressed.

Known by its Portuguese acronym of ANAC, the Brazilian agency is one of four Western aviation regulators, along with its counterparts in the U.S., Europe and Canada, that directly certify commercial airplanes — in its case those built by regional jetmaker Embraer.

ANAC worked closely with the FAA, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), and Transport Canada to come up with the requirements for the operational return of the Max.

Roberto Honorato, ANAC's superintendent of airworthiness, said that "this thorough evaluation of the flight control system is an unprecedented milestone in the history of aviation" and added that the modifications to the airplane design and the revised pilot training "offer total confidence for the resumption of operations" in Brazil.

ANAC's statement added that, following the Max's return to service, "the implementation of other improvements ... remain in progress in order to continue enhancing the use of the aircraft model and its features."

 

ANAC did not detail what additional improvements it wants, but they likely follow those requested by EASA: a third check on the plane's two angle of attack sensors and some way to silence the stall warning known as a "stick shaker" if it activates erroneously.

About 20 ANAC engineers and pilots participated directly in the Max validation, the agency said.

Currently, the only Brazilian airline with the Boeing 737-8 Max in its fleet is GOL.

Boeing welcomed the ANAC clearance.

"Safety is Boeing's top priority and the company will continue to work with regulators and our customers to return the airplane back into service worldwide." the company said in a statement.

"Not a day goes by that we don't remember, reflect and rededicate ourselves to ensuring accidents like the ones that led to the decision to suspend operations never happen again," said Boeing CEO Dave Calhoun.

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