Transport Canada relieved over Boeing backing for 737 MAX simulator training

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By Allison Lampert

OTTAWA, Feb 25 (Reuters) - Boeing Co's recent recommendation that airline pilots undergo simulator training before they resume flying the grounded 737 MAX was "a huge relief" for Transport Canada, the regulator's national aircraft certification director said on Tuesday.

Transport Canada is among a core group of regulators evaluating requirements for the 737 MAX to fly again after a near year-long global grounding of the fleet following two fatal accidents.

Boeing in January shifted its position from an earlier recommendation that pilots only needed computer-based training before flying the MAX.

“It was a huge relief to us,” director David Turnbull told a government committee hearing in Ottawa on aircraft certification. "We'd been pushing that from the beginning of our review."

Canada Transport Minister Marc Garneau has long leaned toward mandatory simulator training for Canadian 737 MAX operators.

Minimum training requirements, in addition to acceptable pilot workloads, are key for the plane's return to service, Nicholas Robinson, Transport Canada's head of civil aviation told the hearing.

Garneau had previously said Transport Canada will make changes to improve the rigor of its system for validating aircraft already certified by regulators such as the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).

Canada accepted the FAA’s March 2017 certification of the 737 MAX under a reciprocal deal in which such approvals by the FAA are accepted by Transport Canada and the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and vice versa.

Canada has since said it will conduct its own flight testing and is conducting its own independent assessment on Boeing's update of the stall-prevention software known as MCAS linked to both crashes.

Eight Canadian families who lost members in the Ethiopian crash met earlier in February with Garneau, and urged his government to hold a hearing into Transport Canada's validation of the MAX aircraft, a spokesman for the families said.

(Reporting By Allison Lampert in Ottawa; Editing by Bill Berkrot)

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