DGCA lifts ban on Boeing 737 Max aircraft

DGCA lifts ban on Boeing 737 Max aircraft after more than two years

The ban was imposed on 13 March 2019 after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max plane on March 10

The ban on Boeing's 737 Max fleet has been lifted in India. Credit: Reuters File Photo

More than two years after grounding it, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on Thursday lifted the ban on Boeing 737 Max planes' commercial flight operations.

The ban was imposed on 13 March 2019 after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max plane on March 10 near Addis Ababa killed 157 people, including four Indians and another crash involving Lion Air flight in October 2018, which killed 180 people.

The DGCA said in its order that the operation of Boeing 737 Max planes are permitted "only upon satisfaction of applicable requirements for return to service".

Boeing has been modifying the 737 Max plane since March 2019 so that various countries' regulators, including the DGCA, permit its passenger flight operations again.

At present, only SpiceJet airline in India has Boeing 737 Max aircraft in its fleet. In March 2019, SpiceJet had to ground 12 Max planes.

In a related development, SpiceJet announced that it has entered into a settlement with Avolon, a major lessor of MAX aircraft, paving the way for the airline’s 737 MAX aircraft to start to return to service.

The airline expects to start operations of MAX aircraft around the end of September 2021 subject to regulatory approvals, an airline statement said.

Ajay Singh, Chairman and Managing Director, SpiceJet, said, "as India emerges from Covid and air traffic picks up again, the MAX aircraft will play a major role in our future expansion. With a better and a more efficient fleet back in operation we expect a significant reduction in our operating costs improving our bottom line."

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