When Will India Recertify The Boeing 737 MAX?

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Yesterday’s announcement that the FAA is ungrounding the Boeing 737 MAX after 20 months has many excited about the plane’s future. While the MAX may be preparing to begin flying in the US, several countries are still conducting their own review. India has said that it will take some time before the MAX returns to the skies in India. So, when will India recertify the plane?

SpiceJet 737 MAX 8
SpiceJet is currently the only operator of the 737 MAX in India, with a total of 13 aircraft. Photo: Jonathan Payne via Flickr

Recertified

The world of aviation news was busy yesterday with the much-awaited news about the 737 MAX’s recertification. After over 20 months on the ground, the FAA approved the plane’s return to the skies yesterday. This decision came after a rigorous safety review process, which saw Boeing make several technical changes to the plane and the administrator of the FAA flying the aircraft himself.

However, not all regulators are jumping to recertify the 737 MAX just yet. India’s aviation regulator, the DGCA, has previously said that it will conduct its own review of the plane before returning it to service. The regulator reiterated this stance yesterday, according to Bloomberg, with an official saying the DGCA will “study and react. It will take some time”.

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Boeing 737 MAX, Recertification, FAA
While the US’ recertification is a step in the right direction, India will conduct its own assessment of the 737 MAX. Photo: Getty Images

India isn’t providing a timeline of how long its assessment of the MAX will take and when the aircraft could return to the skies. The process could take anywhere from a few weeks to the early months of 2021. For now, SpiceJet’s 737 MAX’s are going to the parked on the ground for at least a while longer.

Who flies the 737 MAX in India?

Boeing had two customers in India flying the MAX at the time of its grounding, SpiceJet and Jet Airways. The latter shut down in April 2019 (and is now restarting operations) and most of its aircraft have been repossessed by lessors. This leaves SpiceJet as the only carrier flying the MAX in India, with a fleet of 13 aircraft.

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More SpiceJet 737 MAX’s are painted and ready to be delivered. Photo: Getty Images

According to Planespotters.net, SpiceJet’s fleet has been parked for almost two years in various airports across India, including Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, and more. Depending on when India lifts its grounding order, these planes will need to undergo maintenance and the crew will be retrained in line with the new rules laid out the Boeing and the FAA.

While India may not have too many 737 MAX’s in service right now, SpiceJet has an order for 205 of the type. This means we can expect a flurry of deliveries once the plane is recertified in the country.

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Who else is holding out on recertification?

India isn’t the only country waiting before reviewing the plane. China, one of the largest markets of the 737 MAX, has said it has no plans to recertify the plane anytime soon. Brazil, which was a member of the Joint Operations Evaluation Board, is also making some adjustments before recertifying the MAX.

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Several countries are waiting before recertifying the 737 MAX. Photo: Getty Images

For now, Canada (which conducted its own safety flights) will likely be the next country to recertify the plane. However, it could be a while before the 737 MAX returns to the skies in many countries around the world.

What do you think about India’s approach? Should countries also wait before recertifying the plane? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

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