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flydubai's fleet is centred around the Boeing 737 MAX, and the model's forced grounding was a major blow for the airline. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: Budget carrier flydubai will start the process of bringing back its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft into service.

This follows a 20-month review which involved the manufacturer, regulators, engineers, scientists, researchers, mechanics and pilots whose sole objective has been to safely return the aircraft to service, said flydubai in a statement.

Flydubai’s announcement comes a day after UAE’s aviation regulator lifted its ban on Boeing 737 MAX. The jet was grounded worldwide after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people. 

14

Number of Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in flydubai's fleet

Core model

“The Boeing 737 MAX is an integral part of flydubai’s fleet and I have full confidence in the aircraft as it returns to passenger service," said Ghaith Al Ghaith, CEO of flydubai. "Safety is the founding principle of our business. We said that we would only return the aircraft to service when it was safe to do so and that time is now.

“The GCAA has outlined a clear and exacting framework of enhancements and modifications to the aircraft that must be met before returning the aircraft to passenger service along with additional and mandatory pilot training. flydubai will comply with each and every one of the requirements before we allow the aircraft to rejoin our fleet.”

flydubai will take a step by step approach with its return plans for the Boeing 737 MAX

Too early

At this stage it is too early to announce when flydubai’s Boeing 737 MAX aircraft will enter service, said the airline. “The routes on the flydubai network where the aircraft will operate will be announced at a later date.”

  1. Flydubai’s fleet of 11 Boeing 737 MAX 8 and three Boeing 737 MAX 9 have been “meticulously preserved” and undergone continuous maintenance as part of an active aircraft storage programme, said the airline. This included inspections and checks amounting to 18 hours per aircraft each week of maintenance performed.
  2. Engineering and maintenance teams are implementing the return-to-service work schedule for the aircraft, which will be returned sequentially to the fleet following a systematic prescribed process.
  3. Meanwhile, every flydubai pilot will undergo additional classroom and full motion simulator training before they are permitted to fly the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. This training programme exceeds the regulatory requirements.