Indonesian transportation officials said on Tuesday (28 December) that they were lifting a ban on the Boeing 737 MAX three years after carrier Lion Air lost one of the planes in a fatal cash during a routine domestic flight that killed 189 people in October 2018. A separate 737 MAX crash the following March suffered by Ethiopian Airlines 737 MAX saw aviation authorities around the world ground the aircraft.
The approval for its return comes months after the model returned to service in the United States and Europe, and follows more recent lifting of grounding orders in other countries, including Australia, Japan, India, Malaysia, Singapore and Ethiopia. Ethiopian Airlines Group plans to resume flying the jet from 1 February. The US and Brazil cleared it in late 2020 and were followed by other major markets including Europe. China, the first to ground the jet following the second crash in Ethiopia, still hasn’t lifted its ban, though a test flight was conducted in the country in August.
Indonesia will follow other countries in lifting the ban after an evaluation of changes to the aircraft’s system, its transportation ministry said in a statement. Pilots at Indonesia-based airlines will have to undergo additional simulator training before they can fly the plane again, the statement added.
Privately owned Lion Air, which operated 10 737 MAX planes before the ban, did not comment. National flag carrier Garuda Indonesia said it had no plans to reintroduce the plane to its fleet as it focuses on an ongoing debt restructuring process, chief executive Irfan Setiaputra told Reuters. The state-controlled airline, which had operated one 737 MAX before the ban, has said it plans to cut its fleet from 142 to 66 planes under the plans.