Transport Canada will begin conducting flight tests for the validation of Boeing's grounded 737 MAX next week, PAX can confirm.
The news is part of a global effort to return the plane to service following two fatal crashes involving the model in 2018 and 2019.
Canada's department responsible for developing programs and policies for air travel is believed to be the first non-U.S. regulator to conduct tests on the controversial aircraft.
Employees to be flown to Seattle
The development, which was first reported by Reuters, comes after the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) ran flights tests on the Boeing 737 MAX from June 29th to July 1st, 2020.
In a statement issued to PAX, Sau Sau Liu, a senior communications advisor at Transport Canada, confirmed that Transport Canada has completed its review of the United States' results and is "scheduled to conduct our own validation test flights the week of August 24th."
The independent review will follow strict health and safety protocols reflective of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"Transport Canada employees will be flown to Seattle, WA to conduct evaluations on the engineering simulator at the Boeing facility and then back to Vancouver, BC.," she said. "For the flight test activities, as a result of the ongoing public health situation, the test aircraft will fly to Vancouver, BC to allow Transport Canada employees to board. Flight testing will take place in U.S. airspace, and then the aircraft will return to Vancouver, BC to allow Transport Canada employees to disembark."
Mitigation measures due to COVID-19 have been established for the validation activities, including flight tests to ensure the health and safety of Transport Canada employees, she added.
"Transport Canada remains committed to ensuring that the flight restrictions in Canada are in place until fully satisfied that all safety concerns have been addressed by the manufacturer and the FAA and that enhanced flight crew procedures and training are in place," she said.
The Boeing 737 MAX was grounded around the world in March 2019 following the crash of Ethiopian Airlines flight 302, which killed 157 passengers.
The same plane model was involved in an October 2018 disaster, which saw a two-month-old Lion Air plane crash into the Java Sea in Jakarta, Indonesia, killing 189 people.
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