India Reportedly Days Away From Boeing 737 MAX Recertification

India is reportedly happy with the performance of the 737 MAX since its ungrounding in Europe and the US. Sources close to the aviation authority say that the type is just days away from being recertified to fly. Although only one airline has the MAX in its fleet – SpiceJet – the ungrounding could add confidence for new orders to be placed.

The 737 MAX could be cleared by India within days. Photo: Boeing

India is satisfied with the MAX

The Boeing 737 MAX could be in for a boost of confidence soon, as local publications are reporting that India’s aviation ministry, the DGCA, is almost ready to approve it to fly. The Economic Times reports that approval for the MAX to fly in the subcontinent is likely to come ‘within days’, giving a boost to Boeing’s presence in the country.

According to a person close to the matter, India has been largely satisfied with the performance of the 737 MAX since its ungrounding in the US and Europe. Boeing has also met India’s own requirements, which included setting up a 737 MAX simulator in the country.

Following a request for comment, Rajeev Jain, a spokesperson for the DCGA, said that the decision has not yet been made. Boeing told Simple Flying,

“We continue to work closely with global regulators and our customers to safely return the 737-8 and 737-9 to service worldwide.”

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Only one operator

Although support for the MAX will be welcomed by Boeing, the immediate impact will be small. Only SpiceJet operates the type, with a current fleet of 13 sitting on the ground at airports around the country. Five are stored at Delhi, two at Ahmedabad and Chennai, with the rest spread around Hyderabad, Kolkata, Mumbai and Bangalore.

Boeing SpiceJet 737 MAX 8
SpiceJet hasn’t flown its MAX aircraft since early 2019. Photo: Boeing

Even if the grounding is lifted this week, it will take SpiceJet several weeks to return its fleet to service. The Economic Times suggests around a month will be required to make them airworthy, a process which could be further extended given that SpiceJet is still in discussions over compensation for Boeing.

What will be good news for the US planemaker is that, with the type cleared to fly, it can begin delivering the outstanding orders for the carrier. SpiceJet has orders in for an additional 133 737 MAX, several of which have already been built. Data from ch-aviation shows that six already have construction numbers allocated, and two have had their Indian registrations applied.

Boeing 737 MAX Jet Airways
Jet Airways was the only other Indian operator of the MAX. Photo: Boeing

The only other operator of the MAX in India was Jet Airways, with an order in for more than 200 MAX-8 and -9 aircraft. Boeing has previously said that this order is not ‘canceled’, suggesting that the new Jet Airways could look to reinstate the commitment.

Hope for the Akasa order?

The biggest boon for Boeing in getting the type recertified in India will undoubtedly be the new impetus it gives for an order from startup Akasa Air. The Rakesh Jhunjhunwala founded airline was noted to be interested in a significant order of narrowbody aircraft, with the 737 MAX the front runner to be picked.

If it goes ahead, the order could be in the region of 100 aircraft, and would give Boeing a new foothold in the Airbus-dominated market of India.