© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: Grounded Boeing 737 MAX aircraft parked in Boeing Field in Seattle
By Jamie Freed
SYDNEY (Reuters) – The Australian Aviation Authority announced on Friday that it would lift a nearly two-year flight ban on flights to and from the country on Boeing (NYSE 🙂 Co 737 MAX aircraft. This makes the country the first in the Asia-Pacific region to do this.
“We … are confident the planes are safe,” Graeme Crawford, acting chief of the civil aviation safety agency, said in a statement.
Regulators have accepted the comprehensive recommissioning requirements set by the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) as the design level for the 737 MAX, he added.
No Australian airline operates the 737 MAX, but Fiji Airways and Singapore Airlines (OTC 🙂 Ltd used it on flights to Australia before the plane lay on the ground after two fatal crashes in March 2019.
Crawford said it was unclear when these airlines would resume flights to Australia amid COVID-19 disrupting international air traffic.
Fiji Airways and Singapore Airlines also require authorization to fly from their national aviation regulators and others who require them to use the airspace.
A Fiji Airways spokesman said it was still working with other regulators in the region, including those in Fiji and New Zealand, before the 737 MAX is back in service.
The New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) said they worked closely with colleagues in Australia and Singapore on the return of the 737 MAX to New Zealand.
“The CAA will not give a blanket approval for the flight of the Boeing 737 MAX to New Zealand, but will work on a case-by-case basis with future operators to clarify flight operations to New Zealand,” said the CAA, referring to Fiji Airways restricted international flights due to COVID-19 still.
The Singapore Aviation Authority did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Singapore Airlines announced that it will continue to work with and be guided by the regulatory authorities for the operation of the Boeing 737 MAX.
Regulatory authorities in the US, Europe, UK, Canada, Brazil and the United Arab Emirates have already approved the jet’s return to flight after engineering changes and additional pilot training.
China became the first country in the world to ban the 737 MAX from its airspace in 2019, and it has not specified when it will lift the ban.
Boeing said Friday it was working with regulators and customers to bring the 737 MAX back into service worldwide.
Virgin Australia has ordered 25 aircraft, but they will not be delivered until mid-2023.
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