After nearly two-and-a-half years, India’s aviation authority, the DGCA, lifted the ban on Boeing 737 Max planes flying commercially.
After the accident of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max airliner near Addis Ababa on March 10 that killed 157 people, including four Indians, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) grounded all Boeing 737 Max planes in India on March 13, 2019.
Currently, only SpiceJet has Boeing 737 Max aircraft in its fleet in India. In a statement released on Thursday, the budget carrier said it intends to begin operating Max jets by the end of September, pending regulatory permissions.
Since March 2019, Boeing has been updating the 737 Max airliner so that authorities in several countries, including the DGCA, will let it to resume commercial flight operations.
The European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) declared the Max aircraft safe to fly in October of last year. The FAA, the US aviation regulator, approved Max planes to fly a month later.
The DGCA stated in its order dated August 26, 2021 that it “has been closely watching the global trend with relation to un-grounding” of 737 Max planes since the FAA and EASA issued regulations in October and November of last year.
Since the jet was un-grounded in late last year, 34 airlines have performed 1.22 lakh flights using 345 Max planes without “untoward reporting,” according to India’s aviation regulator.
As a result, the DGCA declared that Boeing 737 Max jets are permitted to fly in India “only upon satisfaction of necessary prerequisites for return to service.”
On Thursday, a senior DGCA official stated that the commercial flight ban on 737 Max jets was removed.
The collision on March 10, 2019, near Addis Ababa was the second in five months. A 737 Max airliner operated by Lion Air crashed in Indonesia on October 29, 2018, killing 180 passengers.
SpiceJet had to ground 12 Max jets on March 13, 2019, prompting them to cancel a large number of flights that day and the following day.
Jet Airways had five Max jets in its fleet as of March 13, 2019, but they were already grounded owing to non-payment of lessor dues. Due to a shortage of cash, the full-service carrier ceased off operations a month later.
Several governments grounded 737 Max flights as recently as March 2019.
According to a statement released by Boeing in April 2019, the preliminary report of the Ethiopian Accident Investigation Bureau contained flight data recorder information indicating that the Ethiopian Airlines plane had an erroneous sensor that activated the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS) function during the flight, similar to what happened on the Lion Air 610 flight on October 29.
When MCAS is activated, it is supposed to automatically drive the plane’s nose downward.