UAE ungrounds the B737 MAX


The General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) of the United Arab Emirates issued a safety decision on February 17, 2021, permitting the B737 MAX to return to service subject to mandatory changes.

The regulator ordered all domestic carriers – effectively, flydubai (FZ, Dubai Int’l) as the only B737 MAX operator in the UAE – to outline a return to service plan incorporated under their respective safety management systems. The GCAA’s requirements are identical to those outlined in the United States by the FAA. However, the Emirati authority has tasked carriers with preparing a strategy for handling the minor differences between the requirements imposed by the FAA and by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). In particular, these differences concern additional modifications to the stick shaker system mandated by the EU.

flydubai, which has thus far taken delivery of eleven B737-8s and three B737-9s, said it would now work to implement the changes. It added that it had full confidence in the aircraft’s safety following the unprecedented level of regulatory scrutiny. However, the airline said that it would conduct internal pilot retraining above the minimum prescribed. The airline refused to provide any timeline for the resumption of B737 MAX-operated revenue service.

flydubai has a further 237 B737-8s on firm order from Boeing, making it the world’s second-largest customer for the family behind Southwest Airlines (and ahead of Lion Air).