Boeing 737 MAX aircraft
These Boeing 737 Max are not going anywhere soon. UAE aviation chief says the challenges are too many. File picture of aircraft parked at Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington. Image Credit: REUTERS

Dubai: About 10 months into the grounding of Boeing’s 737 Max model across the world, the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority said it is still “not very optimistic” that the model will return to service this summer.

The head of the GCAA said that “it seems that this aircraft [model] in particular is facing a lot of challenges,” as he explained his lack of optimism.

Boeing as well as other regulatory authorities had earlier said they expect the Max to return to the skies in early 2020. Last week, Boeing updated that forecast, saying it is now telling its clients that it these to fly again by mid-2020.

Saif Al Suwaidi, director-general of the GCAA, said that while he is “hoping” the jets will fly again in mid-2020, he is not optimistic.

“Of course, we are suffering from having aircraft here (in the UAE) that are have not been flying for a long time now, and we’re hoping that we see this aircraft flying again,” he said. “So far, we keep hearing from Boeing that the situation will take more time.”

The GCAA had earlier said it plans to conduct its own tests on the Maxs even after they get recertified by American authorities. Al Suwaidi said that at this point, the GCAA has not officially received details of all the solutions to fix the aircraft, but expects to start testing the jets once Boeing and the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) finish their tests.

All eyes on US regulator

The manufacturer acknowledged, however, that the timeline is still up to the US regulator, which is handling the re-certification. In the UAE, flydubai is the only local operator of 737 Maxs and has had to ground the jets since March. This has hurt the airline’s earnings “significantly” and is expected to continue to, it earlier said.