Vietnam is edging closer to reauthorizing the Boeing 737 MAX to fly in its airspace again. The Civil Aviation Authority of Vietnam (CAAV) will issue a recommendation to the country’s National Traffic Safety Committee (NTSC) to allow the MAX to be flown once more.
However, the decision is also dependant on ‘information from the Aviation Authorities of China, Australia, and Russia.’ It is unclear if Vietnam plans to make a decision independently or wait for Russia and China to unground the MAX first.
737 MAX close to reauthorization
The 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after two fatal crashes and was only recertified to fly again in November 2020 after 18 months on the ground. Many countries have since reauthorized the plane in their airspace, although major nations, including China and Russia, are yet to do so.
Vietnam is now paving the way to unground the MAX and allow it to fly through its airspace and, when applicable, operate inbound and outbound flights. The CAAV made the recommendation to the NTSC on March 9th. In a statement, the authority claimed it had made its recommendation,
“[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.”
Vietnam waits on China and Russia
However, in the same statement, the CAAV alluded it was waiting on the actions of other countries before it would commit to ungrounding the MAX. Specifically, it mentioned Australia, China and Russia as the aviation authorities it was gathering information from. The CAAV clarified,
“After these Aviation Authorities allow operation, the Department will report to the National Traffic Safety Committee (NTSC) and, when permitted, proceed to allow inbound flights and grant accreditation of Type Certificates.”
Australia recently became the first Asia-Pacific country to unground the MAX, while Russia and China are yet to make much progress. China claims it is still unsatisfied with efforts to make the plane airworthy, citing ‘major concerns’ as behind its delay. Other countries have recertified the aircraft in recent weeks, with Saudi Arabia and the UAE joining Australia in lifting the ban.
How many 737 MAXs in Vietnam?
Currently, no Vietnamese carriers operate the 737 MAX, but low-cost airline VietJet is planning to add the aircraft to its fleet. The airline has 200 MAXs on order with Boeing but doesn’t have the authorization to import the planes yet. Vietnamese authorities will not allow the MAX to be ferried into the country until it is certified to fly again.
Once this happens, the CAAV has stated it will take between six to twelve months to process the import permit. Depending on China and Russia’s actions, VietJet could be waiting a long time before it gets its hands on the new 737 MAXs.
Do you think authorities should be recertifying the MAX quicker, or are there still valid concerns about its airworthiness? Feel free to share your thoughts and insights in the comments.