Dubai's flydubai gears up for Boeing 737 MAX to rejoin fleet
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Dubai’s flydubai gears up for Boeing 737 MAX to rejoin fleet

Dubai’s flydubai gears up for Boeing 737 MAX to rejoin fleet

The General Civil Aviation Authority approved the aircraft to return to service


Dubai carrier flydubai will commence the process of preparing the Boeing 737 MAX jet for passenger service, after the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) allowed the aircraft to fly in its airspace again.

This follows a 20-month review which involved the manufacturer, regulators, engineers, scientists, researchers, mechanics and pilots who aimed to safely return the aircraft to service. The review and its outcome have resulted in the approval, allowing the aircraft to take to the skies again by the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA), the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and other regulators from around the world.

However, local airlines must first provide a plan for bringing the plane back safely, and develop a strategy to address differences between requirements set by US and European regulators, GCAA said.

Flydubai hasn’t confirmed a date as to when the aircraft will enter service. However, the routes on the carrier’s network where the aircraft will be deployed, will be announced at a later date.

Ghaith Al Ghaith, chief executive officer of flydubai, said: “The Boeing 737 MAX is an integral part of flydubai’s fleet and I have full confidence in the aircraft as it returns to passenger service. Safety is the founding principle of our business. We said that we would only return the aircraft to service when it was safe to do so and that time is now.”

“The GCAA has played a key role alongside other regulators during the 20-month review of the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The GCAA has outlined a clear and exacting framework of enhancements and modifications to the aircraft that must be met before returning the aircraft to passenger service along with additional and mandatory pilot training. flydubai will comply with each and every one of the requirements before we allow the aircraft to rejoin our fleet.”

Airlines in the US and Brazil began to restart commercial flights with the Max late last year, after regulators there cleared its return. On Wednesday, TUI AG became the first company in Europe to begin flying passenger services with the 737 Max.

The European Union Aviation Safety Agency last month cleared the Max, while adding further requirements not sought by the US Federal Aviation Administration. In one example, pilots in Europe are allowed to intervene to stop a so-called stick-shaker alarm from continuing to vibrate after being erroneously activated. The Canadian regulator also adopted this approach.

Read: UAE aviation regulator clears Boeing 737 Max to fly again

Meanwhile locally, every Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in flydubai’s fleet must meet the following requirements:

  • Software enhancements and additional protections to the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System (MCAS)
  • Other software updates not related to the flight control system
  • A wire separation modification
  • A thorough inspection to ensure the aircraft are free of debris
  • Pilot training has been enhanced and includes both classroom and full motion simulator training
  • Conduct operational readiness flights

These changes and enhancements will be validated and form part of the regulator’s approval for the aircraft to enter service. Flydubai’s engineering and maintenance team are currently implementing the return-to-service work schedule for the aircraft. Every flydubai pilot will undergo additional classroom and full motion simulator training before they are permitted to fly the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. This training programme exceeds the regulatory requirements.

During the period that flydubai’s fleet of 11 Boeing 737 MAX 8 and three Boeing 737 MAX 9 aircraft have been grounded, they have been preserved and have undergone continuous maintenance. This included prescribed inspections and checks amounting to 18 hours per aircraft each week of maintenance.

With inputs from Bloomberg

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