Boeing 737 Max aircraft
Fit for flying... UAE's aviation authority clear path for troubled 737 MAX to be flown again. Image Credit: AP

Dubai: The UAE’s aviation regulator has lifted its ban on Boeing 737 MAX, months after it formed a committee to evaluate the return of the airplane.

Saif Al Suwaidi, Director-General of General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), said the ban on the 737 MAX was lifted and a decision was issued for the aircraft to operate again. The jet was grounded worldwide after crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia killed 346 people. It was later found the pilots of both jets were unable to control them shortly after takeoff due to a flawed flight control system.

Al Suwaidi said that lifting of the ban on the aircraft was a result of "intensive efforts made by the technical committee at the authority through evaluating all the technical requirements in accordance with the requirements by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration."

"It resulted in the committee determining that those technical requirements should be met by the companies to ensure the return of the aircraft to the skies again."

Read More

Procedural steps

The latest decision "includes the correct measures to be applied by airlines operating the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, most notably updating the MCAS system, pilot training procedures and the operational readiness of all aircraft before operating again, in addition to the flight permit procedures that will be issued by the authority for each aircraft," said Al Suwaidi.

GCAA Director-General noted that the safety decision also includes the technical requirements that must be met by foreign companies’ Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, which are expected to operate in the country's airspace.

"We emphasise GCAA’s commitment to guarantee the safe return of the aircraft to the country's airspace," Al Suwaidi continued.

Ismail Al Baloushi, Assistant Director-General for Aviation Safety Affairs, said, "We will be closely monitoring and making sure that the companies are meeting these technical requirements before their aircraft operate again."

What happens to flydubai?

The decision favors flydubai, which is one of the world’s biggest Boeing 737 MAX customers. The budget-carrier currently has 11 Boeing 737 MAX 8s and 3 Boeing 737 MAX 9s in its fleet.

Getting these planes back up in the sky is no easy task. “Re-lauching an aircraft like the 737 Max during the pandemic will be indeed a very tough challenge in short-term,” said Linus Benjamin Bauer, Managing Director of Bauer Aviation Advisory.

“Next to all legal and technical aspects, future passengers need to be convinced to fly 737 Max again. Because the customer confidence in air travel in general is at a very low at the moment already.”