NEW DELHI: India’s aviation regulator DGCA on Thursday lifted the ban on Boeing 737 Max planes’ commercial flight operations after almost two-and-half years.
On March 13, 2019, all Boeing 737 Max planes were grounded in India by the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) after the crash of an Ethiopian Airlines 737 Max plane on March 10 near Addis Ababa which had left 157 people, including four Indians, dead.
Aircraft manufacturer Boeing has been modifying the 737 Max plane since March 2019 so that various countries’ regulators, including the DGCA, permit its passenger flight operations again.
In its order dated August 26, 2021, the DGCA stated that the operation of Boeing 737 Max planes are permitted “only upon satisfaction of applicable requirements for return to service”.
A senior DGCA official confirmed that the ban on 737 Max planes’ commercial flight operations has been lifted.
Currently, only SpiceJet airline in India has Boeing 737 Max aircraft in its fleet. No other airline in India uses Max plane.
On March 13, 2019, SpiceJet had to ground 12 Max planes, forcing it to cancel a significant number of flights on that day as well as on the next day.
Jet Airways also had five Max planes in its fleet but they were already grounded as on March 13, 2019 due to non-payment of dues to the lessors.
A month later, the full-service carrier had shut down its operations due to lack of funds.
In March 2019 itself, several countries grounded 737 Max planes. The March 10, 2019 accident near Addis Ababa was the second in a period of five months.
In October 2018, a 737 Max plane operated by Lion Air had crashed in Indonesia, killing 180 people.