UAE-based low-cost carrier flydubai is set to become the latest in an increasingly large list of carriers to have reintroduced the Boeing 737 MAX. The type will recommence operations with the airline within a week, on April 8th. This comes less than two months after the MAX was recertified for commercial use in the UAE.
Return of the MAX
flydubai announced earlier today that it would be bringing its Boeing 737 MAX aircraft back into active, revenue-earning service as of April 8th. The carrier will be able to do so having fulfilled a series of requirements set out by the UAE’s General Civil Aviation Authority (GCAA).
According to Planespotters.net, the airline’s fleet features 14 737 MAX planes, of which the majority (11 aircraft) are the MAX 8 variant. The remaining three examples are the larger MAX 9. Of these, flydubai has confirmed that “four MAX 8s and one MAX 9 have now received regulatory approval” to re-enter service. flydubai’s CEO, Ghaith Al Ghaith, commented:
“The MAX is integral to flydubai’s fleet and we are confident in the aircraft and its capabilities. I would like to commend the GCAA for their tireless pursuit of air safety, and the diligent work undertaken by the flydubai team to ensure the safe return of the MAX aircraft to passenger service.”
What had to be done?
The UAE recertified the Boeing 737 MAX for commercial service in the country earlier this year, on February 18th. Since then, flydubai has been making extensive preparations to reintroduce the type to its growing network. The airline lists the following criteria as prerequisites that had to be satisfied before it could commercially reintroduce the MAX:
- 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.
Where will it fly?
As it stands, flydubai will operate its first post-recertification MAX flight on April 8th. This service will depart the airline’s Dubai International (DXB) base for Sialkot International (SKT) in Pakistan. Emirates and Pakistan International Airlines also have a presence along this corridor.
Going forward, flydubai plans to fly its MAX to more cities. The airline will be transparent with passengers about the aircraft’s presence. It states that “passengers will be notified in advance of travel if their itinerary now includes a flight that is scheduled to be operated by a MAX.”
The reintroduction has come at a useful time for flydubai, as it looks to expand its network. Having the MAX back in service will give the airline more planes with which to do so. It has already recently added flights to the likes of Israel and Georgia. Going forward, it is targeting a European expansion, and has already taken over Emirates’ Dubai-Zagreb route.
What do you make of flydubai’s planned 737 MAX return? Will this be a factor in your upcoming travel plans? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.