The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) issued an order on Wednesday clearing the way for the Boeing 737 MAX to resume flights, 20 months after it was grounded in the aftermath of two deadly accidents that killed 346 people. In India, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), however said it will study the FAA’s order and react accordingly.
The aircraft was grounded in March 2019 by regulators worldwide following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines-operated 737 Max, which was preceded by the crash of one operated by Lion Air in Indonesia a few months prior. Crash investigators attributed the accidents to a series of flaws, including a problem with the aircraft’s manoeuvring software.
Alongside the order that rescinds the grounding of the aircraft, the FAA also published an airworthiness directive that specifies design changes that must be made before the aircraft returns to service, a continued airworthiness notification to the international community and training requirements for the 737 Max.
“These actions do not allow the MAX to return immediately to the skies. The FAA must approve 737 MAX pilot training program revisions for each US airline operating the MAX and will retain its authority to issue airworthiness certificates and export certificates of airworthiness for all new 737 MAX aircraft manufactured since the FAA issued the grounding order. Furthermore, airlines that have parked their MAX aircraft must take required maintenance steps to prepare them to fly again,” the FAA said in a statement.
The Indian side had earlier pointed out that regulators here will be conducting their own inspections before allowing the plane to fly over Indian skies. “We will study and react. It will take some time,” DGCA chief Arun Kumar told The Indian Express. In India, low-cost carrier SpiceJet operated Boeing 737 Max aircraft prior to its grounding and has 13 of the jetliners in its fleet.
“The FAA’s directive is an important milestone,” Stan Deal, president and CEO, Boeing Commercial Airplanes, said. “We will continue to work with regulators around the world and our customers to return the airplane back into service worldwide.”
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