International airlines can now use the aircraft to fly over Indian airspace. Also, operational readiness flights using the aircraft can be carried out.
A Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. | Representative Image
Partially relaxing the ban on Boeing 737 Max aircraft in India, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) has now allowed international airlines to fly the plane over the country’s air space.
The aviation regulator has also allowed the grounded 737 Max in India to be flown for ‘operational readiness.’
“This is for those overflying and those being readied for return to service. These are the grounded aircraft belonging to lessors that have been exempted and can be flown away from India,” a senior official told Moneycontrol.
At the same time, the ban on operating these aircraft in India, remains.
In India, SpiceJet operates 13 of the Boeing 737 Max aircraft. But these have been grounded since 2019, when Boeing was forced to take off all 737 Max aircraft, which were involved in twin tragedies.
Jet Airways, which stopped operations in April 2019, also operated these aircraft.
“The directive doesn’t allow SpiceJet to fly these planes for operational readiness. It’s possible that lessors may want to take back these planes,” a senior industry official said.
Sources told Moneycontrol that the planes that were operated by Jet Airways may be taken back by the US-based lessor, GECAS. The company had leased twelve 737 Max aircraft to Jet Airways. “There are five of them that could be flown out,” an executive from an airline said.
FlyDubai, the low -cost airline based in Dubai, had earlier this month sought DGCA’s approval to fly over India. But senior executives had said that the request was turned down.
“We will need some more time to gauge the performance of the aircraft and therefore, it has been denied for the time being,” a senior executive had said then.
It may yet take time for the aircraft to be used in India. Barely five months after major airlines resumed flying the Max 737, the hit another air pocket. This time the problem was an electrical one that gave a backup to the main power system. This is different from the software problem that led to the twin fatal crashes. Ironically, the new issue had cropped up in those planes that were produced after the checks and changes in the system.
(This is a developing story. Please check back later for more details.)