NZ regulator approves return of 737 MAX

Fiji MAX
(PHOTO: Fiji Airways)

Use this oneFollowing a comprehensive safety review the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand has granted Fiji Airways approval to resume flights to New Zealand using Boeing 737 MAX aircraft. The approval comes more than two years after the CAA first placed a condition on the airline in March 2019, which prevented it from operating these aircraft to New Zealand after serious safety issues were identified following two fatal accidents overseas. Aviation regulators around the world put similar conditions in place at the time, which effectively grounded the global fleet.

Since then, aircraft manufacturer Boeing has worked with aviation regulators in the United States, Europe and Canada on packages of system modifications, changes to procedures and updated pilot training, which would provide a path for airlines to return these aircraft to service.

CAA Deputy Chief Executive David Harrison says the authority has been working closely with the Civil Aviation Authority of Fiji to ensure the necessary safety improvements have been made for Fiji Airways’ 737 MAX aircraft. “We have thoroughly and independently reviewed the work undertaken by Fiji Airways to bring their 737 MAX aircraft back into service and are confident these aircraft are safe to return to operation,” Harrison said. “The date for these aircraft being added to flight schedules between New Zealand and Fiji hasn’t yet been decided given the evolving COVID-19 situation. But passengers can be assured that no stone has been left unturned to ensure all the necessary safety improvements have been put in place so that when these aircraft return to New Zealand’s skies, they do so safely.”

The CAA’s approval initially covers two of the five 737 MAX 8 aircraft operated by Fiji Airways. The remaining three aircraft will also be subject to CAA scrutiny before they are allowed to operate New Zealand. The CAA’s approval is in the form of the 737 MAX 8 aircraft being re-added to Fiji Airways’ Foreign Air Operators Certificate. This is a CAA-issued certificate which overseas airlines need to hold before they can regularly fly to New Zealand.

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