Vietnam Lifts Ban On Boeing 737 MAX Flights

Vietnam has become the latest country to partially re-authorize the Boeing 737 MAX. The news comes more than two years after the type was grounded worldwide following two fatal accidents that bore striking parallels. Although no Vietnamese airline currently flies the type, the decision will allow foreign operators to fly the MAX in the country’s airspace.

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Vietnam feels encouraged by safe post-recertification MAX operations elsewhere. Photo: Getty Images

Two-year ban comes to an end

According to Reuters, Vietnam is now allowing Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to fly in its airspace again. For now, the lifting of the ban only applies to flights that will transit Vietnamese airspace, rather than services that start or end in the country. The news comes after the Vietnamese Ministry of Transport approved a proposal from the Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV), based on safe post-recertification MAX operations elsewhere.

In the meantime, the ministry has requested that the CAAV continues to monitor the situation. It will do so, as well as keeping the ministry posted with updated information from other countries’ aviation safety agencies, with a view to allowing all MAX operations in the future.

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None of Vietnam’s airlines currently operate the MAX. Photo: Getty Images

In the pipeline since at least last month

While the lifting of the ban is a momentous announcement, it is also not the most surprising. Indeed, it appears to have been in the pipeline since at least last month. At this time, Simple Flying reported that the country was close to re-authorizing MAX operations.

It appeared at the time that Vietnam might have been waiting for countries such as Australia, China, and Russia to recertify the type before lifting its own ban. Nonetheless, on March 9th this year, the CAAV recommended the country’s National Traffic Safety Committee (NTSC) to lift its MAX ban:

“[on the] basis of the corrective work of Boeing, the assessment of the major aviation authorities in the world and the aircraft’s performance indicators.”

VietJet is set to alter its Airbus-dominated fleet with an order for 200 MAX aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

Home to a large MAX order

As we have established, no Vietnamese carrier currently operates the Boeing 737 MAX. However, the country is home to one of the type’s largest outstanding orders. Local low-cost carrier VietJet has ordered a total of 200 MAX aircraft across two variants.

In 2019, the airline doubled its existing order of 100 MAX aircraft to bring its total up to the present sum of 200. Of these aircraft, 120 belong to the MAX 8 variant, which is currently the most popular version of the MAX series.

The remaining 80 examples are the stretched-fuselage MAX 10 version. The lifting of the ban is good news for VietJet, although it may be waiting a while for its MAX 10s. After all, Boeing revealed earlier this year that it wouldn’t start MAX 10 deliveries until 2023.

What do you make of Vietnam’s decision to lift its ban on the Boeing 737 MAX? Have you flown on the aircraft elsewhere since its recent recertification? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments.