The Directorate General of Civil Aviation on Thursday cleared the decks for operating Boeing 737 MAX upon satisfactory compliance to applicable requirements for return of service. The order ending more than two years of grounding would come into immediate effect, aviation sources said.
The DGCA had, effective March 13, 2019, banned the operation of the two airplanes following two fatal accidents involving Boeing 737 Max airplanes (Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302) and directed that, for the purpose of securing safety, operation of Boeing 737-8 and 737-9 would not take place from/to Indian airports and transit or enter into Indian airspace.
In April, the order was relaxed to the extent that foreign registered Boeing 737 Max aircraft, which were grounded in India due to the ban, were permitted to fly out of the country. Also, overflying foreign registered Boeing 737 Max aircraft were allowed to fly over Indian airspace. However, commercial operations in the country remained prohibited.
Reason for rescission
The decision now to allow the operation of the airplanes was taken after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an Airworthiness Directive on November 18, 2020, mandating actions for Boeing 737 Max airplanes to return to service. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) also issued the Airworthiness Directive on February 17, 2021. The move followed certain design changes by M/s Boeing.
After the grounding order for the airplanes was rescinded by FAA and EASA, the regulatory authority closely monitored the global trend on removal of ban.
“World-wide 17 regulators have permitted operation of Boeing 737 Max airplanes. A sizeable number of airlines (34) with B737 airplane (345) are operating currently and have attained 1,22,824 departures with 2,89,537 cumulative hours since the ungrounding from December 9, 2020, with no untoward reporting,” the DGCA said in an order.