Boeing 737 MAX authorized to return to Kenya and Nigeria

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Boeing 737 Max aircraft was recertified to enter Nigerian and Kenyan airspaces after being grounded in March 2019.

On February 21, 2021, both Kenya’s Civil Aviation Authority and Nigerian Civil Aviation Authority (NCAA) announced the lifting of the ban on Boeing 737 MAX aircraft, following two deadly crashes in Ethiopia and Indonesia.

NCAA Director General Captain Musa Nuhu said the aircraft model had been granted approval to operate in Nigeria’s airspace following the recertification and Airworthiness Directive (AD) issued by the United States Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). 

“All national operators intending to operate must work with the Boeing company and the NCAA for the Aircraft Type Certificate Acceptance Program in order for the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft to be registered in Nigeria and issued a Certificate of Airworthiness Standard,” outlined Nuhu. “All foreign air operators who intend to operate the Boeing 737 MAX aircraft in Nigeria must provide evidence of compliance with the FAA’s airworthiness directive.”

Nigerian airlines with 737 MAXs on order include Air Peace (ten 737 MAX 8s), Arik Air (eight 737 MAX 8s) and Green Africa Airways (50 firm orders and 50 options), according to the CAPA fleet database. In December 2018, Lagos-based Green Africa Airways announced a commitment for up to 100 737 MAX 8 aircraft, evenly split into 50 firm aircraft order and 50 options, representing the largest Boeing aircraft deal for the African continent.

While none of Kenya’s airlines currently operate the Boeing 737 MAX, the recertification will allow other carriers, such as Ethiopian Airlines and Turkish Airlines, to fly the MAX into Kenya’s airspace.

“The airlines are free to fly Boeing 737 Max to Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, there are no restrictions that we are going to impose,” said Gilbert Kibe, the KCAA’s Director General.

However, Ethiopian Airlines CEO Tewolde Gebremariam indicated that the airline would restart the Boeing 737 MAX operations only in July 2021. Currently, Ethiopian Airlines has four Boeing 737 MAX 8s in its fleet, which have been parked at Addis Ababa Bole International Airport (ADD)

On February 17, 2021, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA) ungrounded the Boeing 737 MAX, allowing the aircraft type to fly within the UAE airspace.

On November 18, 2020, the FAA of the United States became the first authority to recertify the Boeing 737 MAX. The European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), Transport Canada (TC), Brazil’s National Civil Aviation Agency (ANAC), Britain’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) have also recertified the Boeing 737 MAX, allowing it to resume commercial service again.

As the Boeing 737 MAX is slowly returning to the skies, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) will use satellites to monitor its every flight worldwide. The FAA will be checking the performance of each 737 MAX flight using a technology that sends data from an airplane via satellites. It is the first time the agency is using such technology to keep an eye on a single-model aircraft to detect any issues early on.


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Elzbieta Visnevskyte
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