The Boeing 737 MAX: Which Countries Have Unbanned The Plane?

As 2020 comes to a close, Boeing can officially say it was the year the 737 MAX was ungrounded. Several commercial flights have now taken place with the newly approved MAX. But which countries have allowed the MAX back into the skies, and which countries are yet to do so?

The Boeing 737 MAX: Which Countries Have Unbanned The Plane?
Several countries have now ungrounded the 737 MAX. But which ones? Photo: Getty Images

Officially approved

So, it comes as no surprise that the US has allowed the MAX back. With the FAA so closely involved in approving the changes to the MAX, the plane couldn’t really count as ungrounded until the US was happy. Just two days ago, American Airlines became the first US operator to fly the MAX again officially. Although the FAA technically approved the MAX for flying back in November.

However, the US carrier wasn’t the first carrier to officially relaunch the MAX back into service. Brazil has also approved the MAX for service, and Brazilian airline GOL was actually the first airline to operate a MAX flight in 20 months. Aside from Brazil and the US, Mexico has also approved the MAX, with AeroMexico being the second airline to operate a MAX flight with the newly modified aircraft. Panama also has a MAX back in the sky operated by Copa Airlines.

Close to approval

While very few countries have actually recertified the MAX, there are lots more that are very close. The FAA stamp of approval appears to be persuasive in letting others know the new design is safe. Singapore Airlines has started bringing its grounded MAX back from storage in Australia, ready for certification from the Singapore Aviation Authority.

GOL Boeing 737 MAX
Brazilian carrier GOL was the first airline to fly the recertified MAX. Photo: Getty Images

Canada is also moments away from issue official recertification, having approved the MAX design changes earlier this month. The European Union’s Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) has also approved the changes, and recertification is expected in January. Although the UK will be leaving the EU regulations tonight at midnight, this may not include UK airspace.

Alongside Europe, China, Japan, India, Australia, and Russia all still have bans in place. However, things look likely to change over the coming months. Several African nations, including Morocco and Ethiopia, also look set to approved the MAX soon.

boeing 737 MAX china getty
China is the largest market for the MAX and has given no clues about recertification. Photo: Getty

The problem with recertification

The issue many airlines may face with recertifying the MAX is that their home nation may certify its use, but it still may be unable to fly it. Some countries are still very cautious, and they might not allow the MAX to fly across their airspace. For example, the US has approved the MAX, but airlines would not be able to use the MAX to fly across Europe while Europe has the type grounded.

So, while things are certainly looking up for Boeing and its troubled 737 MAX, there is still a long way to go. Although Boeing will undoubtedly be thrilled when Canada and EASA have recertified the MAX, its biggest market is China. China hasn’t given any indication of when recertification will come. Additionally, many Middle Eastern nations have been very quiet about when the MAX may be back in the sky.

However, with so many travel bans still in place, even with the MAX recertified, the 790 737 MAX aircraft, which were grounded worldwide, won’t all be back in the sky soon.

What do you think of the MAX recertification? Will we see more countries lift the ban in the New Year? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.