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Transport Canada sees 'greater involvement' in aircraft validation after 737 MAX crash

FILE PHOTO: Grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are seen parked at Boeing facilities at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington, U.S. November 17, 2020. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson

MONTREAL (Reuters) - Transport Canada said on Thursday it plans to take a harder look at the relationship between regulators and the manufacturers they oversee, an effort to change the way it validates aircraft following the return of Boeing’s 737 MAX to the skies.

We “have to look at the interaction that different authorities have with their manufacturers,” Nicholas Robinson, the regulator’s director of civil aviation, told a Canadian hearing on aircraft certification and the MAX.

Canada is close to validating the jet that the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) cleared for flight earlier this month after it was redesigned following two fatal crashes that killed 346 people.

There will be some differences between what the FAA has approved for the MAX and what Canada will require for its airlines, such as in training.

In the past, regulators promptly followed the guidance of the FAA on Boeing aircraft, but many are now wary of seeming to toe the FAA line after the U.S. agency was faulted for lax oversight.

“It’s public record that information was not forthcoming with regard to particular aspects of this aircraft,” Robinson said. “That will have to change.”

The ability of regulators to cooperate is crucial in a sector spanning dozens of jurisdictions. Having a regulator such as the FAA do the heavy lifting to certify a U.S. plane reduces costs and time, because agencies abroad can validate the results without having to duplicate them.

Transport Canada, which spent about 15,000 hours in its validation of the MAX jet, expects to play a greater role in overseeing aircraft in the future, but would not displace the existing system, Robinson said.

“We’ll see a greater involvement in validation, but we do have to keep with the system where the state of design certifies the aircraft and the other leading authorities go ahead and validate the aircraft independently.”

Reporting By Allison Lampert in Montreal; Editing by Aurora Ellis

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