The Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM) has lifted the suspension on flight operations of Boeing 787-8 and Boeing 787-9 (known as Boeing 737 Max) after two years of grounding. On September 2, CAAM released a new Safety Directive allowing conducting commercial flights with Boeing 737 Max aircraft by Malaysian and foreign air operators. That implies airlines can now fly Max aircraft into, within, or out of Malaysian airspace.
Malaysia approved Boeing 737Max aircraft operations after closely monitoring extensive work performed by Boeing Company and United Nations Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on its comprehensive return-to-service requirements. Malaysia is the first Southeast Asian country to lift a moratorium on B737 Max aircraft.
In March 2019, Malaysia suspended all Boeing 737Max planes from flying or crossing Malaysian airspace until further notice following a deadly plane crash in Ethiopia. The two fatal accidents of Ethiopian Airlines and Lion Air involving Boeing 737Max-8 killed a total of 346 people. The two deadly crashes in less than five months led to the grounding of operations of Boeing 737 Max by all airlines around the world. But with this latest announcement of CAAM, Boeing 737 Max can now return to the service.
The review of operational data of flights that have been undertaken has revealed that there’s no notable safety issue in the aircraft. So airlines in Malaysia can now take steps to bring Max aircraft into service coupled with an increase in travel demand in recent months. All air operators must fulfill the requirements as stated in CAAM Safety Directive 01/21 before using such type to serve the Malaysian market. The applicable USFAA recommendations regarding pilot training and other hardware adjustment coupled with regulatory, technical, and testing requirements must be dealt with to perform commercial flights by Boeing 737 Max aircraft inside or out of Malaysia.
The approval for flight operation comes after the earlier lifted restrictions in the United States and European Union. Now, Boeing 737 Max planes can ferry passengers in and out of Malaysia again. But for that, the pilots have to undertake additional simulator training as new hardware installation, and software changes for flight control are needed on each aircraft to return to the skies. The grounding for more than two years means that the pilots need to be updated with engineering manuals and prepared for handling emergencies. Previously, in both fatal crashes, faulty Maneuvering Characteristic Augmentation System (MCAS) was pinpointed to be the primary cause.
Malaysian carriers that use Boeing 737 Max aircraft
The lifting of Boeing 737 Max will benefit the national carrier Malaysia Airlines, which is set to take the delivery of aircraft from 2024. Currently, none of the Malaysian airlines have B737 Max in their fleet. The state-owned Malaysia Airlines was supposed to take delivery of 25 Boeing 737 Max before it was pushed back due to global suspension of the aircraft. The Lion Air Group Subsidiary Malindo Air also has three Max 8s in order from Boeing Company.
Other airlines lifting Boeing 737 Max grounding
Last week, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) permitted the grounded aircraft to fly to Indian skies with immediate effect. So far, 176 countries have revoked their airspace moratorium to permit the operation of Boeing 737 Max, of which 17 are Asian countries.
Following Boeing 737 ban lifting in various countries, North America and Europe have started seeing the aircraft type all over. The dramatic comeback of this aircraft type will benefit the major operators like American Airlines, Alaska Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Air Canada, United Airlines, etc.
Singapore has also lifted the halting of this aircraft type after the thorough assessment of modification to the aircraft. The national flag carrier of Singapore, Singapore Airlines, is set to fly its 737-8s from Alice Springs, where they were grounded in 2019. It has further plans to add eight more such types in the financial year ending March 31, 2022.
Good news for Aerospace titan Boeing
The global criticism and reluctance to return Max aircraft are now being tarnished in the wake of ban lifting by several countries. The aerospace giant faced serious financial and reputation costs due to the grounding of B737 Max planes. Boeing has brought unparalleled scrutiny to meet all the regulatory standards and assure the safety of its clients. However, the re-engined upgrade of 1960 jets, 737 Max, has a long runway ahead as such aircraft types are still in an effort to win approval from China, the key aviation market.