Indian aviation regulator DGCA today allowed foreign-registered Boeing 737 Max aircraft, which had been grounded in the country since the fatal March 2019 crash of such an aircraft in Ethiopia, to overrun India after taking agency approval.
Moreover, foreign leaseholders are allowed to fly their 737 Max aircraft underground out of India after taking control of the controller, says a Civil Aviation Directorate General (DGCA) order.
On March 13, 2019, all Boeing 737 Max aircraft were grounded in India by DGCA after an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max plane crash on March 10 near Addis Ababa that left 157 people, including four Indians, dead.
The regulator said on Tuesday it would issue “special flight licenses” to fly a 737 Max aircraft “to a base for storage, repair, alteration or maintenance”.
The aircraft manufacturer Boeing has been modifying the 737 Max aircraft since March 2019 so that regulators of different countries, including the DGCA, allow their operations to fly passengers again.
The DGCA today stated that the ban imposed on March 13, 2019 would not apply on a 737 Max aircraft registered abroad that wants to exaggerate “India airspace”. However, such an aircraft must obtain the permit from the “registry state regulatory authority” as well as the DGCA.
DGCA’s second order provision stated that a foreign-registered 737 Max aircraft, currently based in India, can carry out an “operational readiness flight” followed by a “non-India ferry flight” after taking consent from the regulator of India as well as the “state regulatory authority of the registry”.
The second provision will allow foreign leaseholders to fly their 737 Max aircraft, currently based in the country, out of India.
On March 13, 2019, SpiceJet had to land 12 of Max’s planes, forcing him to cancel a significant number of flights on that day as well as the next day.
Jet Airways also had five Max aircraft in its fleet but were already grounded as of March 13, 2019, because the leaseholders were not paid tolls. A month later, the full-service carrier had closed its operations due to lack of funds.
In March 2019 itself, the 737 Max aircraft was banned by the regulators of almost all countries, including India, in the world.
The March 10, 2019, incident near Addis Ababa was the second in a five-month period. In October 2018, a 737 Max aircraft operated by Lion Air crashed in Indonesia killing 180 people.
On a 737 Max aircraft, the European Union Aviation Safety Agency had expressed concerns about pilot training requirements as well as the malfunctioning of an “angle of attack” system, which triggered a standstill system associated with the above two accidents.