Boeing 737 Max to return to UAE skies after regulator lifts safety ban

The Emirates joins countries including Canada, the US and Brazil in approving the jet's return to commercial service

FILE PHOTO: A Boeing 737 MAX aircraft bearing the logo of flydubai is parked at a Boeing production facility in Renton, Washington, U.S. March 11, 2019. REUTERS/David Ryder/File Photo

The UAE's civil aviation regulator has lifted a 23-month ban on the Boeing 737 Max jet and has deemed the aircraft safe to return to the skies, according to the state-run news agency WAM.

"Lifting the ban on the aircraft is the result of the intensive efforts by the authority's technical committee to evaluate all the technical requirements by the US Federal Aviation Authority, Boeing and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which led the committee to identify the technical conditions that all airlines must address to guarantee the plane's return to the skies," Saif Al Suwaidi, director general of the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA), said.

The UAE is home to Flydubai, one of the world's biggest customers of the 737 Max.

The country has joined Canada, the US and Brazil in approving the plane's return to commercial service.

Canada and EASA lifted their ban last month. Airlines in the US and Brazil restarted commercial flights with the 737 Max at the end of last year, after regulators in the countries cleared the plane's return.

Boeing's best-selling narrow-body workhorse was grounded globally in March 2019 following two fatal crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia that killed a total of 346 people.

The incidents triggered a string of investigations, led to reforms in aircraft certification methods and cost Boeing nearly $20 billion.

Boeing's worst crisis in its corporate history has been compounded by the Covid-19 pandemic that brought the travel industry to a grinding halt and dented demand for aircraft.

Earlier this year, the largest US plane maker posted its biggest annual loss as the pandemic and the 737 max ban weighed on its business prospects. The company posted a full-year net loss of $11.9bn, widening from $636 million in 2019.

Boeing, which lagged behind its rival Airbus in jet deliveries last year, said it delivered 27 of the 737 Max narrowbodies in December, after the US Federal Aviation Administration gave approval for the jet to fly again in November.