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The 737 MAX returns to the air: Saudi Arabia’s turn


Saudi Arabia has in turn authorized the return to its airspace of the Boeing 737 MAXs, although no airline in the country has operated it to date.

The Saudi civil aviation regulator gave the green light on March 1, 2021 for the return of the re-engined single-aisle grounded for nearly two years, following two accidents that claimed 346 lives at Lion Air and then Ethiopian Airlines. According to the General Civil Aviation Authority (GAAC), the 737 MAX « will be cleared to return to service to and from the kingdom after having completed all necessary tests by the United States Federal Aviation Administration, the European Agency aviation safety and other civil aviation authorities around the world ”.

No specific date has been provided for this return to service. Several foreign airlines « operate flights to and from Saudi airports, and several flights cross our airspace with the same model », however, specified the regulator, without citing Oman Air or the low-cost Flydubai which are directly concerned, even Turkish. Airlines or SpiceJet.

The GAAC is therefore added to North America, Europe, Brazil, Panama, Mexico or more recently the United Arab Emirates and Australia in the list of regulators who have approved the resumption of commercial flights in 737 MAX. And she claims to have coordinated with them her approach to pilot training.

In Saudi Arabia itself, the national company Saudia did not order any, its single-aisle fleet being made up of Airbus. Its low-cost subsidiary Flyadeal had abandoned its project of a firm order for 30 MAX 8 in July 2019, three months after the grounding of all MAXs in the world, and had instead acquired the same number of A320neo ( one delivered to date). The low-cost Flynas had leased three MAX 8s (formerly Lion Air) during the summer of 2018, before welcoming the first A320neo ordered a year earlier.

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