August 26, 2021. As India begins to rise from the effects of Covid-19 and the aviation sector picks up again, India’s Air safety regulator, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has also taken one more positive step. The DGCA finally allowed Boeing 737 Max to fly in Indian airspace again, after carrying out the required safety modifications.
The Boeing 737 Max planes were grounded globally in March 2019 following two crashes in less than six months. On March 13, 2019, India had also barred the Max from flying to, from, within and over Indian airspace.
It is official now. The Boeing 737 Max is cleared to resume duty.
The DGCA Chief Arun Kumar issued an order rescinding the March 2019 grounding of B737-8/9 Max.
“This rescission enables operation of Boeing Company Model 737-8 and Boeing Company Model 737-9 (Max) aeroplanes only upon satisfaction of applicable requirements for return to service,”DGCA Chief Arun Kumar
The official order from the DGCA reads, “Based on design changes by Boeing, (America’s) Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Airworthiness Directive (AD) on November 18, 2020, mandating actions for 737 Max aeroplanes return to service (RTS). Concurrent with the issuance of the AD, FAA rescinded the Emergency Order of Prohibition. Subsequently, European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) also issued its own AD on February 17, 2021, which has been mandated by DGCA for compliance on Indian registered fleet.”
The Boeing 737 Max planes were allowed to fly again beginning from December 9, 2020, by regulators of different countries like the US, UAE and EU after going through the needed hardware and software amendments for safety. The DGCA also has been closely and seriously observing the worldwide trend of un-grounding of Max. So far, 175 out of 195 countries have lifted nearly two-year-old restrictions on Max, and various airline operators have put the plane back on duty.
The DGCA noted that 17 regulators across the world have allowed the operation of the Boeing 737 Max aeroplane. 34 airlines with B737 Max aeroplane (345) are operating at present and have done 1,22,824 total departures clocked 2,89,537 cumulative hours since the un-grounding with no report on any untoward incident.
Based on this observation, the DGCA has finally rescinded its order for the grounding of Max. However, the string attached is: “subject to the compliance with DGCA Mandatory Modification on Indian registered aeroplane and FAA AD(on) foreign-registered aeroplane.”
“The DGCA’s decision is an important milestone toward safely returning the 737 MAX to service in India. Boeing continues to work with regulators and our customers to return the aeroplane to service worldwide.”Boeing, the US planemaker
Connection with the Indian Aviation Sector
Meanwhile, India’s low-cost carrier, SpiceJet which is the only Indian airline with B737 Max in India has entered into a settlement with Avolon, a major lessor of MAX aircraft. This has paved the way for the airline’s 737 MAX aircraft to resume service possibly in a month’s time. This is, of course, subject to mandatory regulatory approvals. Boeing will be required to carry out all the modifications on SpiceJet Max before they return to service.
At the time of the grounding, India’s aviation sector had overall 18 Boeing 737 Max planes — 5 were ex-Jet and 13 belonged to SpiceJet.
Besides, the news about the 737 Max ungrounding will be music to billionaire investor Rakesh Jhunjhunwala’s ears. He has ambitious plans to launch an ultra-low-cost airline by early 2022 with a B737 Max fleet.
Spicejet’s Chief Ajay Singh appeared delighted. According to him, the MAX aircraft will play a major role in Spicejet’s upcoming expansion plans. The airline would see a better and more efficient fleet back in service. The company will expect an appreciable decrease in operating costs while improving the bottom line.