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MAX 737 set to win FAA nod by next week

Muzaffar Rizvi/Duabi
Filed on November 10, 2020
Flydubai will be among the first batch of airlines that will be receiving the aircraft with recertification later this year or early 2021.

(Supplied photo)

FAA in final stages of Boeing 737 MAX review; could approve as early as November 18

Flydubai is expected to be among the first batch of airlines that will be getting the 737 MAX aircraft back into their fleet after its recertification, Khaleej Times has learnt.

Sources said the Dubai-based low-cost carrier will be major beneficiary if the struggling aircraft returns to the skies during this quarter as the aviation sector is gearing up for reopening after a Pfizer vaccine breakthrough news that buoyed the markets worldwide.

“The US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is in the final stages of reviewing proposed changes to Boeing Co’s 737 MAX and expects to complete the process in the coming days,” the agency’s chief told Reuters on Monday.

Three sources briefed on the matter told Reuters the FAA is set to lift its grounding order on the plane as early as November 18.

FAA Administrator Steve Dickson told Reuters in a statement that he expects “this process will be finished in the coming days, once the agency is satisfied that Boeing has addressed” safety issues involved in two fatal crashes that killed 346 people.

Boeing declined to comment.

The FAA decision comes as other global regulators are also moving closer to decisions on allowing the plane to again resume flights and could approve the MAX around the time US regulators act, the sources said.

“The FAA continues to engage with aviation authorities around the world as they prepare to validate our certification decision,” Dickson said.

Flydubai 737 MAX fleet

Aviation sources said flydubai, which placed an order for 175 737 MAX aeroplanes with an option for 50 more worth $27 billion at the 2017 Dubai Airshow, will be among the first batch of airlines that will be receiving the aircraft with recertification later this year or early 2021.

“The aircraft will not rejoin the operating schedule until regulatory approval has been received from the General Civil Aviation Authority and the regulatory authorities in the jurisdictions where the airline flies,” a flydubai spokesperson told Khaleej Times.

The struggling aircraft, which was grounded following two deadly crashes, hasn’t flown commercially since March 2019 and is still a number of key steps away from being cleared for service by the US Federal Aviation Administration and other regulators.

“With recertification for the 737 MAX family imminent, key operators like flydubai will be keen to get their airplanes back into the skies and harness the types new cabin as well as lower fuel burn to drive down costs,” Saj Ahmad, chief analyst at London’s StrategicAero Research, told Khaleej Times.

“Coupled with the news of a potential Covid vaccine, if the wider industry starts to rebound in 2021, then capitalising on using the 737 MAX for expansion will be vital for flydubai as it restores its network and looks to open up new routes that will be attainable by the 737 MAXs longer range,” Ahmad said.

“Its taken time to get here, but the fixes to the 737 MAX will ensure flydubai operates one of the industry’s most heavily tested airplane,” he added.

— muzaffarrizvi@khaleejtimes.com





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