Boeing has begun working on five ex-Jet Airways 737 MAXs in preparation for them to fly once again. The aircraft will return to lessors or new customers in the coming months; however, there is a hurdle. India is yet to recertify the MAX and has not allowed the aircraft to fly again, also forcing SpiceJet’s 13 jets to stay on the ground.
Return to service
According to a report from the Times of India, Boeing technicians have arrived in India to return five 737 MAXs to flying conditions. The aircraft belonged to Jet Airways but were later taken back by lessors due to unpaid due after the airline went bankrupt in April 2019. However, the MAX’s grounding meant that were no new airlines taking on the jet in the short run, leaving the planes in India.
Now that the MAX is back in service in a dozen countries around the world, lessors are looking to take back their planes. Data from Planespotters.net shows that four of the planes belong to GECAS and one is owned by SMBC Aviation Capital. Registrations VT-JXA through -JXE will return to lessors
Boeing teams will bring the aircraft out of deep storage, conduct maintenance checks, and prepare the plane for flight. Moreover, the teams will make the needed software and hardware changes to the aircraft needed after its recertification.
India not ready yet
While the lessors can request special permission to ferry their 737 MAXs out of India (as has happened in the past), the country is not ready to recertify the jet just yet. According to Business Standard, the DGCA (India’s aviation regulator) is actively monitoring global 737 MAX flights and making an assessment for recertification.
In a statement, DGCA Direct General Arun Kumar said,
“We are getting weekly updates on the performance of the aircraft…Even though, FAA and EASA have approved the return of the aircraft. We will conduct our own due diligence.”
The lack of recertification means that SpiceJet has not called for Boeing technicians for key maintenance. Moreover, the airline is also locked in a legal battle with lessors since it has not paid leases on the MAX since its grounding.
SpiceJet had previously hoped to have the 737 MAX back in the sky by April, which seems unlikely now. The airline operates a fleet of 13 MAXs and struggled in 2019 following the grounding, forcing it to scale back capacity.
However, considering that international flights remain largely on the ground, SpiceJet may have ample capacity for now. The airline is now looking to expand in the domestic market instead, adding dozens of new routes. Once the MAX is back in India, expect deliveries and flights to quickly rise.
What do you think about the future of the 737 MAX in India? Have you flown the plane before? Let us know in the comments!