Australia has become the most recent country to recertify the Boeing 737 MAX to operate in its skies. While no Australian carrier operates the jet, two airlines previously used the MAX on routes to Australia. Boeing has been working to recertify the jet across the Asia-Pacific region in recent weeks, with Australia now the first country to do so.
According to Reuters, Australia’s aviation regulators have cleared the 737 MAX to fly in the country’s airspace. Talking about the decision to recertify, the Acting Chief of the Civil Aviation Safety Authority, Graeme Crawford, said, “We…are confident that the aircraft are safe.”
It is notable that no Australian carrier operates the 737 MAX, with all operating the older 737NG series (737-700/-800). However, Australian skies still received the 737 MAX from two carriers, Singapore Airlines and Fiji Airways.
SilkAir also operated flights to Darwin and Cairns using the 737 MAX 8. Now merged into the parent airline, Singapore Airlines could resume the routes once the MAX is recertified in Singapore and travel restrictions are eased.
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Vote of confidence
For Boeing, the recertification is a vote of confidence for the 737 MAX and could push more countries in the region to follow Australia’s lead. Asia-Pacific is the fastest-growing aviation market in the world and the manufacturer has been working hard to see the plane return to key markets like China, India, Singapore, and more.
Australia accepted the FAA’s return-to-service requirements when making its decision to recertify the beleaguered jet. However, other countries have said that they plan to conduct their own tests or look to several regulators to make their final decision.
Boeing forecasts that Southeast Asia alone will need 4,400 new aircraft in the new two decades, with passenger numbers growing 5.7% annually. This makes recertifying the 737 MAX as soon as possible important to accessing the burgeoning market. However, the Lion Air crash may have made regional regulators wary of quickly recertifying the jet.
Virgin Australia’s order
While no airline currently flies the 737 MAX in Australia, Virgin Australia did have a substantial order. However, after the airline’s collapse and subsequent resurrection, it shrunk its order from 48 jets (25 MAX 10s and 23 MAX 8s) to just 25 MAX 10s, with delivery scheduled for mid-2023.
Flag carrier Qantas has also been considering a fleet modernization, deciding between the Airbus A320 or 737 MAX. This decision has been deferred due to the current situation for now, but the 737 MAX remains competitive. Overall, the 737 MAX seems to have a future in Australia for now.
For Boeing, recertifying the 737 MAX across Asia will be key to recovery and stopping its deep losses in the last year.
What do you think about Boeing’s decision to recertify the MAX? Would you fly the plane yet? Let us know in the comments!