UAE mulls return of Boeing 737 Max to its airspace, regulator says

UAE's decision depends on Boeing and US aviation regulator's certification tests

A Boeing 737-7 Max aircraft lands at north side of Boeing Field in Seattle, Washington, U.S., after completing a flight testing to be re-certified, June 29, 2020 in this still image obtained from a video.. The Museum Of Flight via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. MANDATORY CREDIT. NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES. REFILE - CAPTION CLARIFICATION
Powered by automated translation

The UAE is considering the return of the Boeing 737 Max to its airspace after a 15-month grounding of the narrowbody jet, according to the General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).

The UAE's decision on whether to approve the return of the 737 Max to service is dependent on Boeing and the US aviation regulator's current certification activities, the GCAA said in a statement on Wednesday.

"The GCAA is closely working with the US Federal Aviation Administration, (FAA), Boeing and UAE operators on B737Max return to service since its grounding after two tragic accidents," Saif Al Suwaidi, the GCAA's director-general, said. "We are in regular discussions with the FAA and Boeing on all aspects of the certification including design, test flights and training for the flight crew."

The UAE is home to Flydubai, the second-biggest customer of the 737 Max jet that was grounded globally after two fatal crashes in Indonesia and Ethiopia within a span of five months. The GCAA's comments come after Boeing and the FAA began a series of long-awaited flights to test the safety of the re-vamped jet on Monday.

The UAE aviation regulator remains in "close coordination" with other major regulators globally to share information and benefit from their experience, it said.

''The GCAA is committed to ensuring highest standards of safety in the UAE skies and will work towards return to service of B737Max until acceptable safety standards are achieved,'' Mr Al Suwaidi said.

The UAE aviation regulator previously said it will conduct its own safety assessment on the jet after Boeing and the FAA have completed their own checks and reviews.

Coordination among global regulators on the requirements and timeline of the jet's return to service would provide a boost to Boeing's best-selling jet, allowing the plane maker to return the 737 Max to service in major markets in a more aligned manner.

The International Air Transport Association (Iata) has repeatedly warned that a fragmented approach by regulators may lead to mistrust in the jet certification process.

The three-day certification test campaign for the 737 Max that started this week is a major milestone in its return to the skies, after long delays and a series of concerns flagged by engineers and regulators.

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 aircraft demand.