As the Boeing 737 MAX returns to service globally, there are still a few notable holdouts. India is one of these countries and is yet to set a date on the type’s return to service. Boeing, too, is in the dark about when the MAX will return and is currently working with regulators for recertification. Let’s find out more.
The Boeing 737 MAX has had a strong 2021. The aircraft returned to service at the end of 2020, following FAA approval in November, and subsequently received EASA approval in January. Certification from the two major regulators cleared the way for deliveries to resume in earnest and bump up Boeing’s sales figures.
However, India has not been as swift as other regulators when it comes to reapproving the MAX. The country has taken a wait-and-see approach, requesting more data from Boeing before making a final call on whether to let the jet fly.
In its India Commerical Outlook Briefing, Boeing explained the current status of the 737 MAX’s return to service, saying,
“The undergrounding process in India is still ongoing and it’s all in discussion with the DGCA [India’s aviation regulator]. We’ve been providing all the information that they have requested from Boeing as the OEM and we know that they’ve been very closely engaged with the FAA and EASA and other regulators as well.
The timeline for the undergrounding of the MAX, of course, rests with the DGCA.”
DGCA not convinced yet
Despite the DGCA’s ongoing certification process, Boeing, too, does not seem to have a timeline for the return of the 737 MAX. While it is good news that India is working with global regulators to receive more data and analyze information, it provides little in terms of how long the DGCA will continue the recertification process.
The MAX has been in the news in India too. The DGCA recently denied flydubai’s request to fly its newly recertified MAX’s to, or even over, Indian airspace, according to Times of India. At the time, the regulator said, “some more time is needed to gauge the performance of the aircraft [737 MAX] and therefore it [flydubai’s request] has been denied for the time being.”
The prolonged grounding of the MAX, however, only impacts one Indian airline: SpiceJet. The all-737 low-cost carrier has 13 planes currently sitting on the ground and many more pending delivery in Seattle. Despite some lessors taking steps to fly ex-Jet Airways MAX’s back, SpiceJet has not taken any steps to return its fleet to airworthy status yet.
SpiceJet previously hoped to fly its MAX’s by April, a date that has come and gone. Since there is no timeline available, the MAX could be weeks or months away from flying in India again.
When do you think the 737 MAX will return to Indian skies? Let us know in the comments!