No Timeframe Yet For Decision On Boeing 737 MAX, Says U.S. Regulator
As many airlines worldwide await the final word on Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, the U.S. aviation watchdog Federal Aviation Administration has said a "thorough process" is being followed for testing the plane but no timeframe has been set for completion of the work.
In the wake of two fatal accidents involving MAX planes, regulators across the globe, in 2019, imposed a ban on flying these fuel-efficient aircraft. The Directorate General of Civil Aviation also ordered grounding of these planes in India.
Since then, Boeing has been working on addressing the problems with MAX aircraft.
In India, SpiceJet Ltd. is the only domestic carrier having MAX aircraft in its fleet. The budget airline grounded 13 737 MAX planes in March last year.
A spokesperson for the FAA said the regulator is following a thorough process for returning the Boeing 737 MAX to passenger service.
"We continue to work with other international aviation safety regulators to review the proposed changes to the aircraft. Our first priority is safety, and we have set no timeframe for when the work will be completed," the spokesperson told PTI.
For several weeks, testing of various types are being done on the proposed modifications to the aircraft flight control system. The process would continue in the coming weeks until certification is complete.
A senior airline official said test flight of MAX plane is likely to be done by the FAA and the European Aviation Safety Agency together in January, possibly in the third week. Once the test flights are successfully completed, then it might take at least one month for certification process, the official added.
The airline is a MAX aircraft customer.
Queries sent to Boeing, EASA and SpiceJet regarding MAX planes did not elicit any immediate response.
In December, Boeing announced suspension of 737 MAX production starting in January due to certification moving into 2020.
Jet Airways, which was shuttered in April 2019, was also operating these planes.
In December, aviation consultancy CAPA India said the continued grounding of the 737 MAX has had a significant impact on SpiceJet.
This is because of the inability to benefit from the improved fuel efficiency of the aircraft or to access the sale-and-leaseback revenue generated from their induction, it had said in a report.
In March 2019, a Nairobi-bound Ethiopian Airlines' 737 MAX aircraft crashed after taking off from Addis Ababa and killed 157 people. The fatal incident came less than five months after a 737 MAX plane, operated by Lion Air, crashed, killing over 180 people in Indonesia in October 2018.