MIAMI – The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued its first airworthiness certificate for a Boeing 737 MAX built since March 2019, the agency said on Tuesday.

Reuters reports today that the FAA on November 18 lifted a 20-month-old grounding order on the 737 MAX. The order was issued after two fatal crashes in five months killed 346 people. The FAA is requiring a series of software changes and new Pilot training requirements before planes can return to service.

Boeing has built about 450 737 MAX airplanes since 2019. And those aircraft are awaiting approval by the FAA before they can be delivered to airlines. Boeing declined to comment on the FAA approval, according to Reuters.

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FAA Comments

“We expect to have a sufficient number of inspectors on hand to meet Boeing’s planned delivery schedule for the foreseeable future. We’ll defer to Boeing to discuss the company’s manufacturing and delivery plans,” FAA spokesman Lynn Lunsford said.

The FAA separately last week approved an American Airlines (AA) training plan for pilots to resume 737 MAX flights, the agency and airline confirmed. That approval clears the way for AA to resume MAX flights starting December 29 once it completes required tests and software upgrades to parked planes.

American plans to begin with a single daily 737 MAX flight from Miami (MIA) to New York’s LaGuardia airport (LGA). That will mark the return of the MAX to US commercial service. Boeing’s backlog of planes is worth about US$16bn, investment firm Jefferies estimates.

Featured image: Boeing