Aviation regulator DGCA (Directorate General of Civil Aviation) has lifted its ban on Boeing 737 aircraft for commercial flight operations with immediate effect. This ends over two years of regulatory grounding in the country, which is a key travel market for US-based aerospace manufacturer Boeing.
It is especially good news for homegrown airline SpiceJet, which has over 100 737 Max planes on order. It's the only airline in India that operates Boeing 737 Max planes.
The ban was imposed in March 2019 following two fatal accidents involving Boeing 737 MAX (Lion Air Flight and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302). Since then, Boeing has been modifying the plane as per the regulators' requirements.
The DGCA order issued on Thursday said Boeing 737 Max planes can be operated in India "only upon satisfaction of applicable requirements for return to service".
The DGCA said the ban was lifted after design changes by Boeing. Following the changes, the Federal Aviation Administration of the US had also rescinded its ban on airplanes. Subsequently, the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) also issued its own airworthiness directive on February 17.
The DGCA's April-20 order had also allowed foreign-registered Boeing 737 Max aircraft, grounded in India due to the DGCA order on March 13, 2019, to conduct operational readiness flight and ferry fly out of India. It also allowed overflying of foreign-registered Boeing 737 Max aircraft over the Indian airspace.
Worldwide, 17 regulators have permitted operation of the Boeing 737 Max engine after the fatal airplane crashes. A sizable number of airlines with Boeing 737-Max airplanes are operating currently.
Meanwhile, no-frills carrier SpiceJet said on Thursday it has entered into a "settlement" with a lessor of Boeing 737 Max planes -- Avolon.
The Gurugram-based airline, in a statement, said it hopes to see these MAX aircraft flying again soon. SpiceJet, however, did not give details such as the nature of dispute it had with the lessor and the reasons that led to the "settlement".
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