India approves Boeing 737 Max to fly after two years ban

After nearly two and a half years of grounding Boeing 737 Max planes in India by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Indian skies will witness the glory of Boeing 737 Max planes. As per the announcement made by DGCA on August 26, Boeing’s B737-8 and B737-9 can now fly with immediate effect.

Boeing 737 Max was grounded worldwide in March 2019 in the wake of two fatal crashes. Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max plane crashed on March 10, 2019, near Addis Ababa, killing 157 people, including four Indians. Earlier in October 2018, Lion Air flight number 610, operating 737 Max, crashed into the Indonesian Java Sea, resulting in the death of 180 passengers.

Spicejet Max 8, VT-MXD at Mumbai , Photo from Mumbai Spotters

In April 2021, DGCA lifted the ban on the operation of grounded Boeing Max planes to resume taking to the skies over the Indian airspace and permitted foreign-registered aircraft to be shipped out of the country to launch operational readiness flights. But, Indian planes grounded in the country weren’t allowed to fly at that time.

About 175 countries have cleared this fourth generation of Boeing jets to resume flying. Thirty airlines are operating or set to operate Max planes back to the flight service. China hasn’t responded regarding the lifting of the imposed ban, although Boeing Company has launched a test flight in that country this month.

The rescission of Max aircraft flights would be subject to regulatory approval only upon satisfaction of applicable requirements. DCGA said in its latest order that it cleared the way for Boeing Max aircraft resumption after FAA and European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) approved the airworthiness directive and allowed the flight to be commenced.

The permission to fly Boeing 737 Max aircraft will benefit SpiceJet, an Indian low-cost carrier, to resume the operation of its grounded aircraft. It is the online airline that has Max aircraft, and since 737 Max aircraft were grounded, it suffered a lot of financial losses and had received compensation from Boeing Company. SpiceJet has 13 737 Max with 133 yet to be delivered. By September end, the carrier is working to reintroduce the airplane.

The lifting of the ban will benefit SpiceJet and Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s new airline Akasa Air as it can now move forward to buy 737 Max aircraft with Boeing.

According to the 737 Max aircraft technician, around 15 days of work such as installing new hardware, changes in a software system for flight control, multiple inspection checks, etc.) would be needed on each aircraft before the regulator declared the aircraft airworthy to return to the skies. It’s because the aircraft has been grounded for more than two years, and they need to be de-preserved along with maintenance work. Pilots need to be trained and updated about the engineering manuals.

SpiceJet’s response over lifting ban on Boeing 737 Max aircraft

SpiceJet’s chairman and MP, Ajay Singh, talked about the reintroduction of Max aircraft, saying it will play a vital role in the airline’s future fleet expansion by significantly reducing operating costs and improving the bottom line. As India emerges from the COVID pandemic and travel restrictions ease, along with the increasing pace of vaccination, SpiceJet’s settlement to restart Max aircraft can help cater pick-up in air traffic.

Earlier this month, SpiceJet said that it was in talks with lessors of Max aircraft to pave the way for bringing Max aircraft back in the air soon. The discussion involved the settlement of present lease structures.

Akasa Air

Akasa Air, a new airline of Indian Warren Buffett Rakesh Jhunjhunwala, is in advanced talk and had made significant progress in negotiation with Boeing to acquire up to one hundred B737 Maxs and intends to commence its operation by 2022.

Relief for Aerospace giant Boeing

Boeing is in major relief after its Max aircraft has the approval to start its passenger flight operations again. Since March 2019, it had been involved in modifying the aircraft by changing its flight control system, working with global regulators. It was plunged into the depth of losses crippled by historic pandemic driven downturn in airplane demand and manufacturing problems with 737 Max aircraft.

Boeing 737 Max aircraft has more fuel efficiency than its forerunners and is used to cater to passengers flying on short-to-medium haul routes. Lifting of the ban over this aircraft provides a boost for the American airplane manufacturing company Boeing. Now, China is the only major aviation market yet to remove restrictions on flying these aircraft.  

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