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Dozens of grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are seen parked at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington, U.S. November 17, 2020.  REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson     TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY (REUTERS)
Dozens of grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft are seen parked at Grant County International Airport in Moses Lake, Washington, U.S. November 17, 2020. REUTERS/Lindsey Wasson TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY (REUTERS)

US FAA clears Boeing 737 Max to fly

  • The new Airworthiness Directive issued by FAA for Boeing 737Max aircraft operators require installation of new flight control computer (FCC) software
  • Aviation regulators around the world, including India's DGCA are now expected to begin procedures to resume services of the aircraft

Boeing 737Max planes, which have been grounded since March 2019, are set to return to skies with the US aviation regulator Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) on Wednesday approving 'return to service' of the aircraft with extensive fixes.

"The FAA has identified the required return-to-service activities for operators of the 737 MAX and heightened surveillance and tracking of those related activities for aviation safety inspectors (ASI)," the FAA said in a notice on its website on Wednesday.

The new Airworthiness Directive issued by FAA for Boeing 737Max aircraft operators require installation of new flight control computer (FCC) software, revising the existing Airplane Flight Manual (AFM) to incorporate new and revised flight crew procedures, installing new MAX display system (MDS) software, changing the horizontal stabilizer trim wire routing installations, completing an AOA sensor system test, and performing an operational readiness flight, among others.

A copy of the FAA notice has been reviewed by Mint.

The Airworthiness Directive issued by the FAA spells out the requirements that must be met by airlines operating Boeing 737Max planes, such as installing software enhancements, completing wire separation modifications, conducting pilot training, etc, which will ensure the airplanes are ready for service.

Aviation regulators around the world, including India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) are now expected to begin procedures to resume services of the aircraft in their respective countries, in the coming days.

Sources at DGCA had earlier told Mint that the agency will conduct its own due diligence before allowing the grounded Boeing 737 Max planes to fly on Indian skies even if the US aviation regulator, FAA re-certifies the planes to fly again.

The Boeing 737 MAX aircraft was grounded by the FAA and subsequently by Indian aviation watchdog DGCA during March 2019 following the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX near Addis Ababa on 10 March, killing 157 people, including four Indians, and another Lion Air crash during October 2018 that killed 180 people in Indonesia.

At present, SpiceJet Limited is the only Indian airline operating the aircraft.

The Ajay Singh-controlled airline has 13 Boeing 737Max planes in its fleet, according to data from the airline's website.

SpiceJet expects its Boeing 737Max fleet to return to service by the January-March 2021 period, it said in a post result statement last week.

When contacted, a SpiceJet spokesperson didn't offer comments.

"The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) today rescinded the order that halted commercial operations of Boeing (NYSE: BA) 737-8s and 737-9s. The move will allow airlines that are under the FAA's jurisdiction, including those in the U.S., to take the steps necessary to resume service and Boeing to begin making deliveries Co," Boeing said in a statement.

Arun Kumar, the director general of DGCA, said that the agency is waiting for an official communication from FAA and Boeing before taking further action.

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