When Will India Recertify The Boeing 737 MAX?

As the Boeing 737 MAX returns to the skies around the world, there are few holdouts, including India. The country’s regulator, the DGCA, is yet to unground the aircraft or even layout a timeline for the same. So when will India recertify the 737 MAX?

Civil Aviation Authority, Boeing 737 MAX, Ungrounded
The DGCA is yet to clarify when it plans to recertify the MAX. Photo: Vincenzo Pace – JFKJets.com

Under examination

According to Mint, the 737 MAX will undergo a lot more scrutiny before returning to Indian skies. It’s unclear what exact tests the regulators are planning for the aircraft, but it seems they will take some time to complete.

One senior Civil Aviation official has said that “there will be all kinds of scrutiny” before the return, adding that,

“The FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) has approved, the EASA (European Union Aviation Safety Agency) has approved…our regulator wants to be more than convinced that the aircraft is safe.”

Boeing 737 MAX 9
India has made it clear that it will conduct all kinds of tests before recertifying the MAX. Photo: Boeing

While every regulator has taken its own steps, India has also been mum about the timeline for the return of the 737 MAX. When discussing a possible timeline, the official said, “on safety matters, we don’t fix time limits.” The additional checks mean India is unlikely to follow the EASA in approving the aircraft, which had previously been suggested.

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The impact

Only one airline in India operates the 737 MAX: low-cost carrier SpiceJet. The airline operated 13 MAX 8s, making it an important part of its 90 passenger aircraft fleet. The carrier, in January, hoped to operate the aircraft before April, signaling that recertification could be around the corner.

However, recent statements could mean the airline may have to push back the date, impacting its growing schedule. With new operations in Ras Al Khaimah and dozens of new domestic routes, SpiceJet will soon require more aircraft.

SpiceJet 737 MAX
SpiceJet operated 13 MAXs before the grounding in March, with hundreds more on order. Photo: Florian Klebl via Flickr

SpiceJet is one of the biggest customers for the 737 MAX globally, with over 200 orders for the type. However, as long as the plane remains on the ground, it increases the risk of deferred deliveries and possible cancelations in the future. But are there any other countries that also haven’t approved the MAX?

More holdouts

While several major aviation markets like the US, UK, European Union, and Canada have recertified the 737 MAX, there is another notable holdout: China. The country made waves in March 2019 after it became the first to ground all the type after the second fatal crash. When it comes to recertifying the plane, China is also yet to lay out a firm timeline.

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China is another major market holding out on letting the 737 MAX return to its skies. Photo: Getty Images

In India, the return of Boeing’s beleaguered narrowbody remains a while away. If all were to go well, the plane could be in service by the summer, but nothing is set in stone. For now, Boeing has a long way to before the 737 MAX reaches its previous status.

What do you think about India’s decision to hold out on recertifying the 737 MAX? Would you fly the plane now? Let us know in the comments!