Boeing 737 Max aircraft to return to Indian skies after 2.5 years
The decision is anticipated to provide relief to domestic airline SpiceJet, which operates 13 Boeing Max aircraft.
After nearly two and a half years, India's aviation authority, the DGCA, lifted the ban on commercial flight operations of Boeing 737 Max jets on Thursday. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) grounded all Boeing 737 Max flights in India on March 13, 2019, following the March 10 accident of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max jet near Addis Abeba, which killed 157 people, including four Indians.
Since March 2019, Boeing has been upgrading the 737 Max jet so that authorities in several countries, including the DGCA, will resume passenger flying operations. The DGCA noted in its ruling dated August 26, 2021, that the process of Boeing 737 Max planes is authorised "only upon fulfilment of applicable criteria for restoration to service."
A senior DGCA official confirmed that the ban on 737 Max planes' commercial flight operations had been lifted. The DGCA ruling said that the lifting of the prohibition "allows operation of Boeing company model 737-8 and Boeing company model 737-9 aeroplanes only upon fulfilment of necessary conditions for restoration to service."
The decision is anticipated to provide relief to domestic airline SpiceJet, which operates 13 Boeing Max aircraft. The directive also said that 17 agencies worldwide had approved the operation of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft.
Notably, numerous aviation agencies worldwide ban 737 MAX aircraft after two tragic accidents were reported. On October 29, 2018, the first crash involving Lion Air Flight 610 was reported in Indonesia. One hundred eighty-nine people were killed in all. The plane's second tragic accident occurred on March 10, 2019, when Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302 crashed in Ethiopia's Bishoftu, killing 157 people. Following the disaster, most aviation regulators, including the DGCA, restricted 737 MAX aircraft by their carriers.
While several regulators have lifted the prohibition, China is the only major aviation market that has yet to authorise the use of 737 MAX aircraft by domestic carriers.